The laws used to determine whether a person is mentally or physically incapacitated and needs to be placed in a court-ordered conservatorship vary from state to state.
In one state, a citizen who has developed, for example, Alzheimer’s disease can have his or her rights stripped away by a judge without being present or informed in advance, while in another state, the person would have the right not only to be present, but also to have a lawyer and demand a jury trial before being placed under the legal control of someone else.
The intent of the laws around conservatorship — when another person or entity is given the legal right to make decisions regarding one’s affairs — is to protect the vulnerable person and his or her assets.
The process is not uncommon, but a growing group of elderly advocates and attorneys has been alarmed over potential abuses in the system and has lobbied for model laws across the country that grant more rights to the individual and offer more protection.
Advocates hail ruling
A recent ruling by the state Supreme Court in Connecticut spelled out how important and serious a conservatorship can be.
The court found that placing a person in a conservatorship “is one of the most serious infringements on personal liberty and autonomy authorized by law.”
The ruling, being hailed by advocates for the elderly, concluded that attorneys appointed in conservatorship cases to represent a candidate for conservatorship are obliged to advocate for what that person wants and not to substitute their own judgment of what is best for the client.
Full Article and Source:
Conservatorship Laws Vary by State
Reform of Unlawful and Abusive Guardianships and Conservatorships and Abuse by Courts and Fiduciaries
The Daniel Gross Decision: Standing Up for the Elderly and Infirm