It is not uncommon for a Florida court to appoint a specific professional or person to make decisions as the official representative of an incapacitated individual. This person will step in to handle the incapacitated person’s personal and/or financial affairs. When the court names such an individual, it is a special kind of protective court proceeding called “guardianship” or “conservatorship.”
Conservatorship is established through probate proceedings. Through probate court proceedings, a judge will appoint an individual — who is referred to as the conservator — to manage the other incapacitated person’s — the conservatee’s — personal and/or financial issues. Once the conservatorship is established, the conservatee will have a limited amount of power over his or her medical and financial decisions.
Generally, a conservatorship is required in the event that a Florida resident becomes unable to make decisions for him or herself. For example, perhaps the conservatee has become mentally incapacitated as a result of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Alternatively, the person may have been in an accident or suffered a serious medical event that left him or her mentally and physically incapacitated. The other element that necessitates a conservatorship is when the person is not able to delegate the decision-making authority to another person by way of a living trust, durable power of attorney or some other method. This is when the court will step in through probate proceedings and assign a conservator for the person.
Issues relating to conservatorship become more complex when family members disagree on who shall serve as conservator. If there is disagreement over medical care and/or financial decisions regarding the person’s affairs, it could lead to a lengthy battle over conservatorship in court.
Source: caregiver.org, “Protective Proceedings: Guardianships and Conservatorships,” accessed June 30, 2015