A conservator and the beneficiary she is advocating for talking and smiling after the beneficiary’s loved one learned how to choose the right conservator to ensure she can make the most of her golden years.Are you in a position where your loved one can no longer manage their finances and daily responsibilities on their own? Whether it’s due to age, illness, or a disability, if you have waited too long to get your loved one a power of attorney, a conservatorship is essential to ensure that they always have a champion in their corner looking out for their best interests. However, understanding how to choose the right conservator for your loved one is crucial because choosing the wrong individual can undermine their quality of life and wreak havoc on their estate, leading to disaster.

At Marcia L. Campbell, CPA, we have helped countless clients by serving as a trusted conservator. Your loved one needs a hero who will fight for their interests and not their own pockets. Here is how to make the right choice.

How to Choose the Right Conservator

Choosing the right conservator requires nominating an individual with specific traits. Let’s discuss the importance of selecting a trustworthy, committed conservator with the specialized expertise to do the job.

Related Article: Everything You Need to Know About Conservatorships

Pick Someone You Trust

When choosing the right conservator, the candidate’s character is one of the most important considerations. Remember, the person you select as the conservator will have the authority to make all decisions and manage your loved one’s assets, giving them complete control over the beneficiary’s finances. 

You need to ensure that the person you choose is someone you trust with uncompromising integrity. For example, a conservator can legally sell property on the beneficiary’s behalf. They can even decide where the beneficiary lives, the treatment they receive, and the food they eat. 

Because of this, the conservator needs to be someone you are confident will act on behalf of the beneficiary in the best interests of your loved one. If you appoint someone who lacks integrity, they could abuse their power and, in some instances, even steal money or assets. 

Related Article: When & Why Families Need to Create Conservatorships

Pick Someone Who Is Committed

When determining how to choose the right conservator, you also need to select someone who’s committed to the role. A conservatorship is an arrangement between a beneficiary and the conservator, and it can stay active for several years or, in some cases, even decades. 

Throughout this period, the conservator will need ample time daily to manage the assets in the conservatorship. This commitment is a time- and labor-intensive responsibility that can also be emotionally demanding. You need someone who has the time to devote to this undertaking. 

Pick Someone with Financial and Legal Experience

Remember, a conservator will manage all financial aspects of the beneficiary’s assets, and in some situations, this may require making difficult financial decisions. 

Managing someone else’s estate is demanding and requires considerable expertise. For example, when deciding to sell some assets like real property, your conservator will need to weigh all the financial repercussions of such a decision. 

Without considerable knowledge of such financial decisions and accounting, they can easily cause disarray for the estate. They will also have to do an annual accounting, which is a complex financial task that requires abiding by the laws that govern conservatorships.

Also, while a conservator has authority over the assets in a conservatorship, they still must abide by legal procedures, write reports, and regularly report to a judge in court. So, experience navigating these procedures is crucial to avoid costly mistakes.

Related Article: What is a Private Fiduciary in California? 

Picking Between Professionals and Loved Ones

When choosing a conservator, many people assume their close friends or relatives are the right people to fulfill this role, but this is rarely the best option. This is a position of tremendous power and influence over the beneficiary. Simple mistakes have far-reaching consequences on their life. 

Further, just because you think someone is suited for the role doesn’t mean they are. The harsh reality is the average person does not fully grasp the responsibilities and pressure this role entails. Choosing a professional fiduciary to serve as a conservator has several advantages. 

When you choose a professional, you never have to worry about their integrity. They must fulfill their fiduciary duty, meaning they have a legal obligation to always act in the best interests of the beneficiary and conservatorship. This duty provides invaluable peace of mind that non-professionals won’t instill. 

With a professional, you never have to worry about their commitment because this is their full-time job. If you choose a friend or family member, they will likely not have the time necessary to properly manage the conservatorship, which has devastating consequences for the beneficiary. 

Finally, when you hire a professional conservator, you can rest assured they have the financial and legal experience needed to manage the assets in the conservatorship.

“When setting up a conservatorship, the most important piece of that puzzle is the conservator you choose. Conservators have considerable power over the beneficiary of the conservatorship. Failure to make the right decision can have devastating consequences. Hiring a professional conservator is almost always the best choice so that our loved one can enjoy the quality of life they deserve.”

– Marcia L. Campbell, CPA & Private Fiduciary

Related Article: The Benefits of Hiring a Private Fiduciary

Are You in the Process of Choosing the Right Conservator? Hire a Professional Fiduciary Today!

Clearly, understanding how to choose the right conservator is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Choosing the wrong conservator for your loved one can result in a heartbreaking nightmare that puts their well-being, finances, and happiness in jeopardy. In short, everything you and your loved one care about could be at risk. Luckily, when you work with a professional fiduciary, you can ensure your loved one has the champion they deserve advocating on their behalf. 

Elderly couple talking and determining how to choose the right conservator.

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