Conservatorship in Colorado is an administrative court appointment that gives one individual responsibility over the estate of another. Colorado law provides rules for conservators and their responsibilities.

While courts tend to favor family members in guardian and conservator roles, friends can also be appointed. Currently, the state allows any interested person to file a petition seeking a guardianship or conservatorship.

Defining a Conservatorship

A conservatorship is a court-ordered legal relationship between an individual, called the “conservator,” and a person who cannot make financial decisions on their own, known as the “protected person.” It grants the conservator the authority to manage the protected person’s property and finances while ensuring that the protected person has access to adequate care and that the conservator does not spend money in ways that harm the protected person.

A person may petition the court to establish a conservatorship for a family member or other individual they believe is incapacitated. This can be a very difficult decision for a family to make.

Colorado law requires conservators to purchase a bond as a condition of being appointed fiduciary by the court. These bonds must be submitted to the district court of the county where the protected person resides or has assets. However, the district court has the discretion to waive the bond requirement if it determines that it is in the best interests of the protected person to do so.

Identifying the Need for a Conservatorship

A conservatorship is needed when an individual is unable to take care of their own financial affairs due to mental incapacity or developmental disability and does not have a power of attorney in place. To become a conservator in Colorado, you must be appointed by the Court after a hearing that examines your ability to act in fiduciary capacity. Those seeking to serve as conservators are required to obtain a surety bond before being appointed.

The court typically prefers that family members be conservators, but if a suitable relative or friend cannot be found the judge will select a private professional conservator or public guardian to handle matters for the ward. The conservator must provide an inventory and financial plan within 90 days of appointment and file annual reports with the court.

A conservatorship can be avoided with proper planning, and an experienced estate planning attorney can assist you in making the right choice for your situation. For example, a living trust provides for the appointment of a trustee who can manage property and business affairs on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so.

Initiating a Conservatorship

As part of a comprehensive estate plan, people can designate who they wish to serve as their conservator in a financial power of attorney. The person named has priority over others to be conservator in a court proceeding and avoids the time-consuming, costly process.

A conservatorship may be necessary when there is no advance plan and the individual has significant assets that are at risk of being wasted, dissipated or lost. A conservatorship can also be established to prevent the exploitation of a minor or incapacitated adult, protect against undue influence, and facilitate long-term care.

In Colorado, a court establishes a conservatorship by filing a petition for conservatorship in the district or probate court in the county where the ward lives or is present. The court then determines if the alleged incapacity exists and appoints a conservator. The conservator must follow strict guidelines set forth by the court and must obtain permission from the court before disposing of significant assets.

Terminating a Conservatorship

A conservatorship grants legal responsibilities to a person who can’t make major healthcare, living situation, legal or financial decisions on their own. Unlike guardianships, conservatorships require court approval for major decisions and can be reviewed by the courts on an annual basis.

In some cases, a person can regain capacity and no longer require the help of a conservator. To terminate a conservatorship, a petition must be filed with the court. This requires the consent of any interested persons and a hearing to be conducted.

Our Colorado conservatorship attorneys can help ensure that the correct legal documents are in place, so that your loved one is protected. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you. We have offices in Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder. Our attorneys are ready to answer your questions and provide the legal assistance you need. We are prepared to handle both minor and complex cases involving conservatorships and guardianships.

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