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Voluntary Conservatorships: What Are They and Why Would I Want One?

In Connecticut, there are two types of conservatorships: voluntary and involuntary. In a voluntary conservatorship (as the name suggests), an individual voluntarily asks the Probate Court to appoint a conservator of their choosing to handle the individual’s financial affairs (conservator of the estate), healthcare decisions (conservator of the person), or both. The same person could serve as both conservator of the person and conservator of the estate, or the roles can be split so that a different person serves in each role.

In a voluntary conservatorship proceeding, unlike a proceeding for an involuntary conservatorship, there is no finding that the conserved person is incapacitated. The conserved person gives up certain rights and authority to the conservator and retains all rights and authority not expressly assigned to the conservator by the Court. In a voluntary conservatorship, the conserved person can terminate the conservatorship with 30 days’ notice to the Court.

The conservator serves under Probate Court supervision and is responsible for filing periodic reports with the Court. Some decisions cannot be made by the conservator without permission of the Court, such as changing the conserved person's residence, selling or transferring real estate, making gifts from the conserved person's assets and establishing a trust on behalf of the conserved person. The conservator should make decisions based on the conserved person's preferences and actively encourage the conserved person to participate in decision-making.

A voluntary conservatorship can be a good idea in certain circumstances. For example, if a person is competent but susceptible to scams or sales pitches, that person may wish to give a trusted friend or family member control over the person’s finances to help minimize damage in the future.

There are pros and cons to voluntary conservatorships, and each specific case is different. It is important for people who are considering a voluntary conservatorship to consult with an attorney who regularly practices in this area to make sure that they understand what a conservatorship is, which rights and responsibilities will be assigned to the conservator and which ones will be retained by the conserved person. For general information about conservatorships in Connecticut, the Probate Court User Guide for Conservators, published by the Office of the Probate Court Administrator, is available here: Probate Court User Guide for Conservators