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How to Hold a Conservator Accountable

For years, conservators had the right to make all decisions for conserved persons. Often, the conserved individual was not consulted in decision-making and his or her preferences were not considered.

Connecticut changed the law in 2007. Now, conserved individuals should be able to have as much control over their lives as possible. The Probate Court judge is supposed to give the conservator only specific rights and responsibilities that the conserved person cannot manage on his/her own. Unfortunately, many people, including some judges, continue to act as if conservators have complete decision-making authority. In order to know what authority a conservator has, you have to see the written decision of the judge, also called the "court order" or "decree".

Understanding the scope of authority

The probate court judge must set out in the court order exactly what duties and authorities are necessary to meet the needs of the conserved person.  The judge may not restrict the decision-making authority of the conserved person beyond that. The judge must list the duties and authority of the conservator and find clear and convincing evidence to support the need for each duty or authority assigned.  

In order to hold a conservator accountable, you must know what specific duties and authority that the Probate Court judge gave to the conservator. This information should be in the court order (decree).  You need a copy of the decree.

What are the duties of the conservator?

The duties of a conservator of the person may include caring for the person’s health care, comfort, and personal effects, as well as deciding where the person lives.  However, each duty must be set out in the decree.  While the conservator can consent to medical care if the decree orders it, the authority to consent to involuntary psychiatric medication is not included and the law requires a separate proceeding that can occur only when a person is hospitalized.

A conservator of the estate is responsible for managing the individual’s income and assets. Like the conservator of the person, the conservator of the estate only has those duties that are listed in the court order and supported by clear and convincing evidence.  Conservators must carry out their duties using the least restrictive means of intervention. 

A conservator of the estate must complete an inventory of the individual’s assets and file it with the Probate Court within two months of appointment. The conservator must use the income and assets to support the individual by paying bills and collecting any debts owed to the individual. The conservator must consult with the Probate Court before the sale or mortgage of assets or anything other than routine expenditures.

A conservator of the estate is also required to purchase a bond (insurance); a conservator of the person may be required to purchase a bond if the court deems it necessary.  In most cases, the court does not force conservators of people with few assets and low income to purchase bonds.

The conserved person retains any and all rights and authorities not assigned to the conservator in the court order. You need that decree!

A conservator must:

  • carry out the duties and authorities in the least restrictive manner,
  • assist the conserved person in removing obstacles to independence and achieving self reliance,
  • find out what the conserved person’s preferences are, and
  • make decisions following those preferences
Can a conservator override the individual’s civil rights?


Are conservators required to report to the probate court?

The conservator of the person must file a report on the conserved person’s condition at least every year with the Probate Court. The conservator of the estate is required to file an accounting only every three years. However, the Court, or any interested party (including the conserved person) can request an accounting more often, and it must be provided.

If a conservator is violating any of these rules, the conserved person can ask the Probate Court to: 

  • order an accounting of charges
  • restrict the conservator’s authority
  • change the conservator
  • end the conservatorship.
Are conservatorships routinely reviewed?

Conservatorships are reviewed one year after they begin and then at least every three years to decide whether the conservatorship should be continued, changed or ended. Within forty-five days of a request from the Court, the conservator and a physician must submit a written report to the Court on the condition of the conserved person.

The Court must provide copies of those reports to the conserved person and his/her attorney. For these reviews, the judge can choose whether or not to hold a hearing, but there must be a hearing if it is requested by the conserved person, conserved person’s attorney or the conservator. 

For more information on how to end a conservatorship, see CLRP pamphlet #4, Changing or Terminating a Conservatorship. A conserved individual can request a hearing at any time to request a change in the scope of authority of the conservator, to request that the conservatorship be terminated, to change the conservator or to challenge other actions of the conservator.  It may be necessary to get a fee waiver granted to obtain a hearing.

The purpose of this website is to provide a basic overview. It is not intended to give legal advice, nor is it meant to give the reader every detail about the laws.

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