10 Important Responsibilities of a Conservator
As a conservator, you have certain legal rights and duties under Tennessee law that become effective the moment the court issues its order appointing you. We will often use the term “fiduciary duty” to describe the good faith obligations imposed on the conservator. Failure to adhere to the legal requirements and fiduciary duties has the potential of leaving you personally liable and/or being removed of your role as conservator. This is not an exhaustive list, and close contact with your attorney is always important.
1. Fiduciary Duty
Generally, you must act in the ward’s best interest. You must ensure that they are living in a safe environment and that their personal needs are being met. If this involves hiring caregivers or moving the ward to a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, you must inform the court and get approval.
2. Bank Accounts
All accounts holding funds of the ward should be in your name as conservator. All of these funds must be kept in a separate account from your own property.
3. Take Inventory
You must file an inventory of the ward’s assets, including an approximate valuation, within sixty (60) days of being appointed conservator. Discovery of any additional assets or income must be reported to the court.
You must create a property management plan, including a budget, for the ward’s assets and income for the upcoming year. This management plan will be approved by the court.
5. Take Possession
You must take possession of all of the ward’s assets – determining which of those assets should be retained or disposed of. Funds can be invested to earn additional income insofar as those investments are prudent and authorized by the court in the management plan.
You cannot spend money of the ward without court approval, even if the spending is for the benefit of the ward. Any expenditures outside of the approved management plan must be approved by the court. Without this approval, you can be personally liable.
7. Keep Records
You should keep accurate and updated records of all assets and income of the ward. This also includes records of disbursement made by you as conservator (even if they are already approved by the court).
You will be required to file annual accountings with the court showing all receipts and expenditures of the year. You will have to file verified bank statements with these annual accountings as well.
9. Notify Court
If the ward passes away or changes addresses, you must notify the court of their death or new location within a reasonable time.
You can be paid reasonable compensation for your services as a conservator. You can also seek reimbursement for your attorney’s fees. However, any compensation or fee reimbursements must be set and approved by the court before they can be paid.
Questions About Your Role As A Conservator? Let Us Know: