Probate Court, a Court For the Living

By Judge Max L. Rosenberg

Probate Court is most commonly associated with the deceased and their estates, but the court is actually set up to help families to protect their most vulnerable members.

Conservators and Guardians are appointed by the Probate Court to oversee the affairs of those with mental illness, those that can no longer care for themselves. It is the court’s solemn duty to protect those people who need the assistance of others from predatory conservators and abuse.

Guardians are entrusted to care and make decisions for a child under the age of eighteen (18). They are in charge of making decisions about medical treatment, educational opportunities, spending of funds, and general life decisions.

Conservators are appointed to oversee the personal and financial affairs of an adult (over the age of eighteen (18)). Before a Conservator is appointed, the court must determine the level of the individual’s ability to manage different aspects of their life. In some cases, the Conserved individual has a Conservator to handle all aspects of their financial and personal affairs, and in other cases, the court will appoint a Conservator to be on Standby and only oversee the choices made by the Conserved person. Additional levels of Conservators include voluntary and involuntary, as well as temporary and permanent.

Conservators and/or Guardians can be family members or court appointed attorneys. Once someone is conserved, they are considered a Protected Person. Regardless of the relationship, it is the responsibility of the Conservator and/or Guardian to regularly check in with the court and provide evidence of time spent and validate the funds used in the benefit of the conserved. For example, the court would have to approve purchases from a trust that is intended for the care of a Protected Person, preventing the guardian from purchasing luxury items and vacations with the funds intended for the basic care of the child. It would be inappropriate to purchase a car in the name of the guardian of a six year old child. It would be appropriate, however, to spend the funds on clothes. The Probate Court scrutinizes and holds accountable those Conservators and/or Guardians who abuse the funds intended for basic care.

The State of Connecticut offers classes and training for Conservators that are required to be appointed.

Probate Court is a court for the living, in that it provides security for the Conserved and those in need of Guardianship. Mentally Ill individuals who are living with a conservator or guardianship appointed by the court are protected by the ever watchful eye of the probate court. The Court is there to protect the assets of your loved one from predatory interests.

To Learn more about Persons with Intellectual Disability’s within the Probate Court System: click here:
http://www.ctprobate.gov/Documents/User%20Guide%20Persons%20with%20Intellectual%20Disability.pdf

To Learn more about Guardianships in Connecticut: Click Here:
https://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/notebooks/pathfinders/guardianshipinct/guardianship.pdf

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