Conservatorship

If an individual's needs are limited to financial management, conservatorship is the option to seek.The courts of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have defined and oversee the process for conservatorship. The consideration of appointing a conservator is a serious matter as this appointment results in an individual surrendering decision making authority to another, a matter to never take lightly. With our society confronting an aging population, many families and friends find themselves in a situation where they may recognize that their loved one:

  • is dealing with deteriorating physical health and not taking care of himself;
  • is losing mental capacity to function well;
  • is not functioning well socially;
  • is no longer capable of managing his/her financial affairs, placing them at serious risk of financial disaster and/or financial exploitation.

Based upon determination of any or all of the above conditions, Kentucky law provides several options:

  • Full Guardianship
  • Limited Guardianship
  • Full Conservatorship
  • Limited Conservatorship

If an individual's needs are limited to financial management, conservatorship is the option to be pursued. The appointment of a conservator is designed to provide financial assistance to the Respondent (the person for whom a conservator is appointed) when the Respondent  remains capable of otherwise providing a level of well-being that aligns with generally accepted social norms.

The interested party with concern that someone needs financial oversight files a petition. This court process moves with the assistance of the District Court Clerk, an office that handles all conservatorship matters. While the District Court Clerk is not a lawyer, this office is trained to help the Petitioner understand what is needed to be done and to help the Petitioner monitor the case as it proceeds. Some of Kentucky's larger counties in Kentucky have a Mental Health Clerk to work with the Petitioner. Conservatorship and Guardianship trials are strictly confidential and the court will keep all records confidential and secure. Kentucky is unique in its requirement to hold a trial by jury in all guardianship and conservatorship petitions.  Evidence is collected by an interdisciplinary team (physician, psychologist and social worker) and a trial is held during which evidence is presented to the Jury. At the end of the trial the Jury makes its determination. The findings are read to the judge after which an immediate appointment is made.

The appointment of a conservator can be an effective remedy in those difficult situations where there is reason to suspect that financial management by someone other than the Respondent is needed. The  Kentucky Guardianship Association is a nonprofit membership association with the goal of improving adult conservatorship and guardianship in Kentucky. Whether you are seeking a clear understanding of the process of appointing a legal conservator or guardian, information about how a guardian trial is conducted, or you are a participant on an interdisciplinary team or a lawyer representing a Respondent or a Petitioner, visit our website at www.kyguardianship.org for more information.  The Kentucky Guardianship Association is a great ongoing resource for families, social workers and individuals interested in becoming guardians. Resources include guardian law training for social workers, attorneys and persons who have been appointed by the court to serve as a guardian or conservator. It is easier to navigate conservator and guardian law when you tap into the resources at Kentucky Guardianship Association.