Undue Influence: Critical Indicators and why you need a Conservator

Anyone can be at risk, but elder adults or ill individuals are especially endangered as they become more reliant upon the physical and emotional support of others. An influencer observes an opportunity for personal gain through controlling another’s decision, usually by means of disillusionment and persuasion. Undue influence is the process of controlling another’s free will by means of excessive persuasion, resulting in that person’s lack of choice and causing them to act against their free will. Undue influence comes in many forms, and can have a detrimental impact on a person’s mental and physical health, and their estate.

Critical Indicators of Undue Influence:

  • Excessive gifting by the influenced, or large amounts of time spent with one individual.
  • Change in behavior of the adult such as eating habits, everyday routines, even likes or dislikes.
  • Isolation from family or friends, discontinuing regular visits with friends.
  • Interference in the process of communicating with the individual, or the influencer always present when attempting to communicate.

Conservatorships Inhibit Undue Influence

Conservators are appointed by the court to oversee and manage another person’s estate. When a judge considers an individual incapable of managing their own personal or financial affairs, a conservator may be appointed to protect the welfare of the individual helps to prevents undue influence, as well as elder abuse, because financial and personal thereafter made by the conservator.

Two Types of Conservators:

There are generally two types of conservatorships: a conservator of the estate, and a conservator of the person. A conservator or the estate handles financial affairs such as income, debt, public assistance benefits, assets, and other business and financial decisions. Conservatorship of the person involves care of the individual’s personal needs, such as meals, health care, transport, and living arrangements. Depending on the case, one conservator may be appointed to serve in both roles, or there may be a separate conservator for each role.

Every Case is Different

There are a variety of options when it comes to designating a conservator. An individual, legally authorized state official, bank, or Trust Corporation may all serve as conservators of the estate. The conservator must be approved by the court and will depend on the complexity of the person’s financial situation. For the conservatorship of the person, a non-profit organization can be selected to handle personal matters, but usually a court selects an individual, such as a family member. Nursing homes and hospitals cannot serve as either form of conservator, and banks may not be appointed as conservator of the person.

They are Held Accountable

Every conservator must report to the court annually. Typically, conservators of the estate must submit an initial report of all financial information and are held accountable to report accurately each year. Most court systems work towards the goal of “least restrictive means of intervention”, allowing conservators to manage the situation while also enforcing necessary checks and balances. This allows the conservator to manage someone’s affairs in a manner that is consistent with their wishes as described in an estate plan.

Have questions about a conservatorship for you or someone you love? Selecting a conservator is of utmost importance. They must be trustworthy, understand your preferences, and carefully handle your affairs. At Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC, we are REAL PEOPLE with REAL SOLUTIONS. We understand that estate planning is personal and, at times, complicated. With 24 years of combined experience and a certified specialist in estate planning, trust & probate law*, we are capable and qualified to understand your unique situation and its dynamics. We strive to provide the highest quality counsel and legal representation. Call us today for an appointment to discuss estate planning and your conservatorship needs!

*The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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