At the 2018 Legal Assistance for Seniors Conference on Elder Abuse this past month, I was honored to be selected to speak on a panel presentation about the issues surrounding a Conservatorship when the Conservatee is married.
As you might imagine, this is a tricky scenario for both the professional fiduciary and family. Although, often, a professional fiduciary can be helpful in providing a neutral decision maker. This can very often lead to more peace in the family and lower legal costs.
Our job is to make decisions in the best interest of the Conservatee. While we seek input from family members, we are charged with the decisions that the person would make for themselves, in their best interest. At times, none, all or only one family member will be able to stay involved with the parents. At other times, the anxiety of the family is often greater than that of the person being served, requiring family intervention discussion, where possible.
One of the case studies presented involved a married couple in which both husband and wife were conserved. In this scenario, one of the couple’s children – the one caring for the two of them at home – had a substance abuse problem. There were many, many decisions that needed to be made to make sure the two elderly people received the type of care, in the right place for them.
What has made this case particularly special to me is how it has become a kind of collaboration. One of the adult children took off time from work to spend time with her mom, as she was declining. She encouraged her mom to do crafts and kept her mentally stimulated, in a manner she could handle and enjoy. This was invaluable and could not have been provided by a professional.
I preformed my job as the Conservator which took the responsibility for financial decisions out of the hands of the family. This gave them space to be family without having to deal with conflict between each other, eventually.
While the case started with some serious problems, eventually the husband and wife became settled in their new living arrangement and had the benefit of more peaceful time as dementia and other illnesses began to take their toll.
If you have an elderly family member who you believe is being neglected or is at the mercy of an irresponsible live-in friend or family member, you might be able to protect your elder with a Conservatorship. You can also ask a professional fiduciary to step into this role while you continue offering support as a caring family member.
Get some information on Conservatorship Duties from the Superior Court of Contra Costa County here http://www.cc-courts.org/probate/probate.aspx The court offers regular workshops for family Conservators which is taught by experienced, professional licensed fiduciaries.
You can see the other valuable presentations of the LAS Conference here: https://www.lashicap.org/programs/community-education/elder-abuse-conference/