Guardianship & Conservatorship

The state of Kentucky is unique in that only a jury trial can determine whether someone needs a guardian or conservator.

When a loved one can no longer manage their care or finances and bills or is being taken advantage of financially, his or her family may seek to establish a guardianship or conservatorship. A conservatorship is a legal process wherein the court appoints someone responsible for another person’s finances and asset distribution. At ElderLawLexington | McClelland & Associates, you can work closely with a conservatorship attorney who is prepared to address all legal issues surrounding the appointment of guardians and conservators and ensure they fully understand the practical and fiduciary duties involved with the process.

Kentucky is unique in that only a jury trial can determine that someone needs a guardian or conservator. The determination is made by a jury but the appointment is made by the judge.

Guardianship is an appointment to assure protective custody for a respondent who is in need of physical or personal protection, possibly for medical or financial reasons. Conservatorship over another adult gives the appointee control over the financial assets and holdings of the incapacitated adult. There must be a demonstrated need for the court’s appointment of a guardian or conservator that would generally show that the person cannot make his or her own personal health care decisions or cannot manage money for him or herself. Quite often, an incapacitated person will need only personal protection of a limited guardian or only financial protection of a conservator appointed to manage that person’s money and property. The appointed conservator will not have authority to make decisions regarding legal or medical matters.

If a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, there are procedures that need to be followed. A petition is filed in the District Court, mental health division, in the county in which the proposed ward resides. During the trial, arguments are made and evidence is presented by a three member team of a social worker, a physician and a psychologist, regarding the functional capacity and environment of the proposed ward. The standard that the court applies when determining if a guardian or conservator is needed is whether the proposed ward lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning the management of his property. When a guardian or conservator is appointed, he or she will have to post a bond in order to guarantee that the conservator does the right thing with the ward’s assets. Once the court has appointed a conservator, the court oversees the actions of the conservator by requiring financial returns to be filed with the court periodically. When the court grants a conservatorship, the conservator can conduct business on behalf of the ward. For instance, the conservator manages the funds and property, opens or closes bank accounts and can make or break contracts on behalf of the ward. The conservator receives, collects and makes decisions regarding the ward’s property. A conservator has no authority to make decisions regarding the ward’s personal affairs. Once a conservator is appointed for someone, then that person’s legal right to make significant decisions has been removed.

ElderLawLexington can help the appointed conservator with the following:

  • Creating a budget for the ward
  • Posting bond as the new conservator
  • Making a list of the protected person’s assets and giving this information to the Court
  • Accounting for any expenses spent by the conservator on the protected person’s behalf
  • Supervising and maintaining the protected person’s assets
  • Applying for medical, employment and government benefits for the protected person

If you need the help of a respected law firm that can take decisive action to ensure that your loved one’s medical and financial needs are being met, please contact the Lexington, Kentucky Law Office of ElderLawLexington | McClelland & Associates. We can help with the conservatorship proceedings in the least stressful and most time-efficient manner for the family involved.