What is a conservator?
A conservator is appointed by the Probate Court to oversee the financial and/or the personal affairs of an adult that has been determined by the Probate Court to be incapable of managing his affairs or unable to care for himself. These types of conservatorships are involuntary and can only be made after the court has determined that the individual is not competent to manage his or her personal or financial affairs. A conservator may also be appointed for the same purpose for a capable person who requests assistance; such conservatorships are deemed voluntary conservatorships.
What does a conservator do?
In summary, a conservator over the person may be expressly assigned by the Court, and may include (1) general custody of the conserved person; (2) the authority to establish the conserved person’s residence in the state; (3) the authority to give consent for the conserved persons medial or other professional care, counsel, treatment, or service; (4) the duty to provide for the care, comfort, and maintenance of the conserved person; (5) the duty to take reasonable care of the conserved person’s personal effects.
The conservator over the person has the duty to exercise her authority in a manner that is the least restrictive means possible and is required to (1) assist the conserved person in removing obstacles to independence; (2) assist the conserved in achieving self-reliance;(3) ascertain the conserved’s views; (4) make decisions in conformance with the conserved’s reasonable and informed express preferences; (5) make all reasonable efforts to ascertain the healthcare instructions and other wishes and (6) make decisions in conformance with the conserved person’s health care preferences, including heath care instructions and other wishes or the health care decision of a health care representative.
A conservator over the estate is responsible for supervising the financial affairs of the conserved person as ordered by the court. Again, the conservator is required to use the least restrictive means necessary in the exercise of her authority and duties. The ongoing responsibility of the conservator is to use the assets of the conserved person’s estate to support the conserved person and any members of the conserved’s family that he is obligated legally to support.
In both situations, the Probate Court oversees the actions of the conservator though periodic reports, and can limit or expand the conservator’s responsibilities after consideration of the circumstances in a Court hearing.
Source: Guides for Conservators, by the Probate Courts of Connecticut, Probate Court Adm. 2008
GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
· “The term Guardian ad litem (GAL)shall mean a person appointed by the court during any proceeding in which a minor child, undetermined or unborn or class of such person, or a person whose identity or address is unknown, or an incompetent person is a party, to represent and protect the interests of such parties.” Connecticut Probate Practice Book, Rule 1.1.09.
· “A lawyer appointed as ‘guardian ad litem’ for a child is an officer of the court appointed to protect the child’s interests without being bound by the child’s expressed preferences.”
Often, GALs are appointed in:(1) child custody disputes; (2) in cases where the child is neglected;(3) where the parent is under the age of 18 or incompetent;(4) or where the parent is absent.
The primary responsibility of the GAL is to speak on behalf of the best interest of the child.
What is an Attorney for Minor Child (AMC)?
An attorney for a Minor Child is appointed in similar circumstances, but does not have the same purpose as that of a GAL.
AMC’s are required to be an advocate for the child’s interests and speaks in Court as a representative of the child’s interests and desires. It is not unusual to have both an AMC and a GAL in a case, but one person cannot serve in both roles.
The primary responsibility of an AMC is to advocate for the child’s interests.