Conservatorship

 A Conservator is a person appointed by the Court to handle the financial matters and property of a minor or adult person who is incapacitated. An incapacitated person is someone who is physically and/or mentally unable to care for himself or herself. A Conservator may be appointed when a person can no longer handle property or manage business affairs. The person might have property that will be wasted without a Conservator or be in need of funds to support them. In many cases, the person has entered a nursing home and has become incapacitated and needs his/her property to be sold in order to generate funds to support them while in a nursing home. Once the petition for appointment of a Conservator is filed for an adult, a physician must examine the ward and render a report of his/her findings. In addition, the Court may appoint a Court Representative and/or a Guardian ad Litem. In the case of a minor the Court will only appoint a Guardian ad Litem. If the petition is granted, the Court will set a bond for the conservator and will set the first accounting period. The Conservator must file an inventory with the Court within 90 days of appointment. The Conservator must keep a record of all transactions, both incoming and outgoing, and give an accounting as the Court directs.

Conservatorship Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS A CONSERVATOR?
A conservator is a person who is appointed by the Probate Court to manage and protect the property of a minor or incapacitated person.

WHO IS AN INCAPACITATED PERSON?
A person who is unable to manage property and business affairs because of
  1. Mental illness 
  2. Mental deficiency 
  3. Physical illness 
  4. Infirmities accompanying advanced age 
  5. Chronic use of drugs 
  6. Chronic intoxication 
  7. Confinement 
  8. Detention by foreign power 
  9. Disappearance 
WHO CAN SERVE AS A CONSERVATOR?
A family member or any interested person, with the priorities as follows:
  1. Conservator appointed in another jurisdiction 
  2. Person selected by incapacitated person 
  3. Person designated by incapacitated person's power of attorney 
  4. Spouse 
  5. Adult child 
  6. Parent 
  7. Relative with whom ward has lived for the last six months 
  8. Nominee of person caring for incapacitated person 
  9. General Conservator or Sheriff 
WHEN CAN A CONSERVATOR BE APPOINTED?
A conservator may be appointed when an incapacitated person
  1. Is unable to manage property and business affairs; and 
  2. (a) Has property that will be wasted without proper management; or (b) where funds are needed to support the incapacitated person or one entitled to support from the incapacitated person 
WHAT ARE THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF A CONSERVATOR?
  1. Without court authorization the conservator may
    • invest and reinvest funds 
    • retain assets 
    • receive additions 
    • acquire undivided interest in property 
    • deposit funds in financial institutions 
    • acquire property 
    • dispose of personal property 
    • make repairs to building 
    • enter leases up to 5 years 
    • enter mineral leases 
    • grant options up to one year 
    • vote securities 
    • pay assessments 
    • sell or exercise stock options 
    • deposit stocks and bonds 
    • consent to reorganization, merger or a business 
    • insure assets 
    • borrow to protect estate 
    • settle claims 
    • pay reasonable annual compensation to conservator *(prior Court approval is required to pay commissions) 
    • pay taxes and expenses 
    • allocate expenses to income 
    • pay sum for benefit of protected person or his family 
    • employ attorneys, accountants 
    • prosecute or defend legal claims 
    • execute and deliver appropriate instruments 
    • hold securities (court may limit powers of conservator) 
  2. With priorcourt authorization the conservator may
    • continue or participate in operating business 
    • demolish improvements 
    • dispose of real estate 
    • subdivide, dedicate land 
    • enter leases greater than 5 years 
    • grant an option for more than one year 
    • take an option to acquire property 

AM I REQUIRED TO HAVE A LAWYER?
The legal complexity of guardianships and conservatorships normally necessitates having an attorney since the Judge of Probate cannot advise you of the law or provide you with forms.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GUARDIAN AND A CONSERVATOR?
The guardian is a person who looks after the child or incapacitated person and their welfare while a conservator looks after the estate.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOLLOWED IN APPOINTING A CONSERVATOR?
  1. Petition filed 
  2. Appointment of a guardian ad litem 
  3. Examination by physician 
  4. Hearing 
  5. Jury at hearing if demanded 
  6. Bond for conservator 
  7. Order granting petition 
  8. Inventory of property for conservator 
  9. Letters of Conservatorship 

IS A BOND REQUIRED?
Yes, a bond is required for conservators unless the bond requirement was waived in a will or power of attorney.

IS AN INVENTORY REQUIRED?
Each conservator must complete an inventory of the estate immediately and file it with the Probate Court within 90 days after appointment.

ARE ACCOUNTINGS REQUIRED?
Yes, a conservator must give an accounting to the Probate Court at least every three years. The Probate Court may order an accounting more frequently. An accounting is also required upon resignation or removal of the conservator.

  1. This information page, which is based on Alabama law, is to inform and not to advise. No person should ever apply or interpret any law without the aid of a lawyer who analyzes the facts, because the facts may change the application of the law.