When an adult becomes unable to manage his or her property and financial affairs effectively because of one of the certain reasons:
- They have the property that will be wasted or used up unless proper management is provided.
- Funds are needed for the support, care, and welfare of the adult and any of his or her dependents a conservator may be needed. A conservator is a person appointed by a probate court and given power and responsibility for the estate (financial assets and property) of an adult.
A mentally competent adult who, because of age or physical limitation, may voluntarily petition the court himself or herself for the appointment of a conservator to assist in managing his/her estate.
Prior to the filing of a conservatorship petition, the petitioner should review What you Need to Know Before Filing a Petition to Appoint a Conservator (PDF) which contains information and answers to frequently asked questions as well as Alternatives to Full Guardianship (PDF) which provides information regarding a limited guardian, conservator, patient advocate designation, do-not-resuscitate declaration, or durable power of attorney with or without limitations on purpose, authority, or time period, and an explanation of each alternative. There are additional pamphlets on our website that may assist in determining if a conservator is needed.
Montcalm County does not have a "public" conservator to appoint in this type of case. If filing a Petition for Conservator, you must submit the name of a proposed conservator.
When a conservatorship petition is filed, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (unless the allegedly incapacitated individual has legal counsel of his or her own choice) to investigate the situation and make a recommendation to the court prior to the hearing. A guardian ad litem is a local attorney appointed by the court to represent the interests of the alleged incapacitated individual. The guardian ad litem will not act on behalf of the petitioner. This guardian ad litem will charge for his/her services and those fees are payable by the petitioner or the protected individual's estate.
In the event the individual states to the guardian ad litem that they wish to be present for the hearing, it is the responsibility of the petitioner to see that they have transportation to the Court. If the petitioner fails to provide said transportation, the hearing will be adjourned until a later date.
Duties of a Conservator
It is the duty of the conservator to care for and preserve all of the assets of the adult and to represent the adult in any legal proceeding. The conservator must keep careful records of all income of the adult and all disbursements of the adult's funds. The conservator must keep the adult's assets separate from his or her own assets and never "borrow" from the adult's assets.
Within 56 days of being appointed, the conservator must file an inventory. View the Conservatorship Inventory (PDF). The inventory is a listing of all assets of the adult. Assets may consist of real estate, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, savings and checking accounts and personal belongings and everything in which the adult has an interest. They must also give a copy of the inventory to the adult and the persons listed on the conservatorship petition and file a proof of service with the Court.
View the Proof of Service Form (PDF).
The conservator must file an Annual Account each year within 56 days after the anniversary date of the conservator's appointment. The account must list receipts (monies in) and disbursements (monies out). Save your receipts, one must be presented to the court (if requested) for each disbursement.
Guardian vs. Conservator
A guardian makes decisions about the person, such as medical or housing decisions, and the conservator makes decisions about the property or finances of the person. A guardian and conservator can be the same person.
Terminate the Conservatorship
Anyone, including the adult, may file a petition to terminate the conservatorship or to have a different conservator appointed. Upon the filing of a petition to terminate or modify, the same procedure will be followed as when a new conservatorship petition is filed. There is a $20 filing for the petition.
When the adult dies, the court should be notified immediately and a copy of the death certificate provided so that the conservatorship can be ended and the court's case closed. Before the conservatory can be discharged, a Final Account will have to be filed and approved by the Court. The Conservator would then need to provide proof that the adult's estate has received the remaining assets.