How to File a Petition to Stop Conservatorship

By Wayne Thomas

It is usually nobody else's business how you choose to spend your money or live your life. However, if you become unable to make reasonable financial or personal care decisions due to age, mental condition or other disability, states give courts the power to appoint someone to oversee the management of your assets and day-to-day care choices through a conservatorship. If you should regain your ability to handle these matters, you can terminate the conservatorship by filing a petition with the court.

Overview of Conservatorship

A conservator is someone appointed by the court to handle the affairs of a "protected person," meaning an individual who was formally declared unable to make personal care or financial decisions for himself. The role of a conservator can vary, depending on the state, with some states limiting the conservator's duties to only financial matters for a minor or an adult. In these states, a duly appointed guardian handles personal affairs, such as determining where the protected person should live and what he should eat. In other states, guardians are only for minors, while the state can appoint conservators to manage either financial affairs or the daily needs of an adult.

Grounds for Termination

Once a conservatorship is established, most states allow any person -- including the conservator and the protected person -- to request the termination of the legal relationship. Although state law can vary, common reasons for a court to approve the termination are if the protected person dies, there are insufficient assets left to manage, or if the protected person is no longer incapacitated and can once again effectively manage his financial affairs or take care of himself.

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Completing the Petition

In many states, you can obtain the forms necessary to terminate a conservatorship from the local probate court website or in person from the court clerk. Some states have separate forms, or petitions, to file if the protected person is a minor. In the petition, you need to include basic information about the conservator and the protected person, the location and status of any managed assets, as well as the basis for the termination request. Once complete, you have to file the petition with the court. You may also need to send copies to any individuals designated to receive notice in the existing conservatorship order.

Next Steps

After you file the petition, the court may schedule a hearing. States vary on when hearings are required and when they may be waived and a ruling made "summarily." For instance, a hearing might not be necessary if the basis for the termination is that the protected person died. By contrast, a hearing might be required if the basis of the termination is that the protected person is no longer incapacitated. In this case if possible, the court would likely want to ask the protected person questions and hear testimony from experts before making a determination. If the court approves the request, the conservator may have additional duties to the court, such as providing a final accounting of the assets and documenting that he completed the transfer of any property he managed back to the protected person or his estate.

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