Watching a loved one’s mental and physical health deteriorate can be a painful, upsetting experience. It can also create a host of concerns that you may not have experience navigating. For instance, as an adult, you might never have considered what would happen if your parent started to struggle with conditions that prevent them from taking care of themselves.

Under these circumstances, there are various options that you may want to explore to ensure your parent is looked after and safe. One option is conservatorship.

What is a conservatorship?

When a person needs help managing personal or financial affairs, the courts can appoint a conservator. Depending on the type of conservatorship, conservators can have numerous duties, from deciding where a conservatee will live and managing daily tasks to paying bills and making budgets.

These duties can be critical in protecting a vulnerable adult. That said, a conservatorship is not always the right solution.

What to consider when considering a conservatorship

When determining if a conservatorship is an appropriate option for your loved one, the most critical factor you must think about is a person’s capacity to make decisions.

Regarding senior parents, people often assume dementia is the only reason a person would require someone else to manage their personal or financial life. However, other conditions can support the need for a conservator, including substance abuse and incapacity.

Often, a statement from a physician noting the limitations of a condition can be helpful in whether a conservatorship is wise or not.

Alternatives to conservatorship

Note that a conservatorship is not the only option for helping someone with their personal and financial affairs, and it may not always be the best option.

Parents can take proactive measures to avoid a conservatorship with estate planning tools like powers of attorney, advanced care directives and living trusts. Further, it may be possible for a person’s spouse to manage his or her needs. Informal arrangements can also be practical.

Every situation is different, and while a conservatorship can work for some people, it is not necessary for others. To explore the options for your unique circumstances, you can seek legal counsel.