Conservatorship is the best way to protect and help an adult, typically an elderly adult, who is unable to make their own decisions. This is a complicated area of the law that can be sensitive for families to deal with, but a compassionate conservatorship lawyer can help you navigate the process effectively and respectfully. If you are wondering about this area of law, the Honolulu conservatorship attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC can help.
We work hard to provide our clients with effective and affordable representation and offer legal services in English, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish. Our experienced conservatorship lawyers have successfully assisted countless clients across the Pacific Southwest region, on a variety of budgets, and we can help protect your loved ones.
What is Conservatorship in Hawaii?
Both conservatorships and guardianships refer to the authority to make decisions for people unable (by ability or law) to do so for themselves. States vary as to how these terms are applied regarding the types of people involved and the decision-making authority granted.
In Hawaii, a conservatorship applies to the authority to make financial decisions for minor children or incapacitated adults, and a guardianship applies to the authority to make health and other personal decisions. Our family law attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC, have years of experience obtaining both guardianships and conservatorships across the Pacific Southwest region and can help you determine which type of arrangement best suits your needs.
In some cases, people plan for potential later incapacitation by naming a person or institution to make decisions for them if they become impaired. This is typically a part of the estate planning process and can be granted as part of a trust, will, or standalone power of attorney document. Where no prior arrangement has been made or where the named agent is incapable or unavailable, a conservatorship may be necessary.
Petitioning for a Conservatorship in Honolulu
Specific requirements vary by state, but the general process of obtaining a conservatorship involves the following:
- Filing a petition and required forms with the court, including medical and financial information about the proposed conservatee, information about the conservator, and why a conservatorship is necessary;
- Providing notice to the proposed conservatee and his or her relatives;
- An investigation by a court-appointed investigator (known in Hawaii as the Kokua Kanawai, or “helper of the court”) with the recommendation made to the court;
- A hearing, in which a judge reviews all information submitted and determines whether proper notification has been made; and
- If the court determines that a conservatorship is proper, an order is submitted to the court for signature.
If a conservator is appointed, the court continues to supervise the conservatorship, and many subsequent reporting and administrative duties may be required. The Honolulu conservatorship attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC offer comprehensive and caring legal advice, from determining whether a conservatorship is appropriate, to proper filings and court hearings, through conservatorship management. We will work hard to deliver affordable legal services to help you take care of your loved one.
Who Could Benefit from Hiring a Conservatorship Lawyer
One of the most difficult and sensitive decisions you will make as a caretaker is whether a conservatorship might be appropriate. Our compassionate conservatorship lawyers can review your circumstances in confidence, help you obtain any necessary consultations, and assist you in making the final determination. States differ in the way they define incapacity, and a medical diagnosis (e.g. stroke, dementia) alone is not usually enough to meet the definition. In general, a court may consider the evidence whether the person can understand his or her choices and make decisions, which may include the ability to do the following:
- Obtain food and prepare meals;
- Understand and properly take medication;
- Make doctors’ appointments and understand medical diagnoses and treatment options;
- Move about their home, including in and out of bed and to the bathroom;
- Understand their finances and obligations, such as paying bills regularly and on time; and
- Recognize and avoid fraud.
Another potentially emotionally-charged issue can arise if siblings or family members disagree over the need for or extent of conservatorship, or who should serve as conservator. These disagreements can complicate an already-complex process, and increase your need for competent legal representation in gathering and presenting information. An experienced conservatorship lawyer can look at your specific circumstances and help you obtain the best result for your loved one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a conservator the same as a guardian?
States vary in their use of these terms, but in general, both refer to the authority to make decisions for people unable to do so for themselves. In Hawaii, a guardianship applies to the medical and other personal decisions for an incapacitated adult or a minor child, and conservatorship applies to the financial or property decisions for either.
What is the difference between a power of attorney and a conservator?
A power of attorney is a voluntary act (usually in a will or a standalone document) that appoints an “agent” to act on behalf of the person making the power of attorney. This appointment is made voluntarily before the person becomes incapacitated. A conservatorship is created by a court order after the person is incapacitated. A power of attorney is sometimes less expensive to obtain and can be more limited in scope than a conservatorship.
Do you need a lawyer for conservatorship?
Conservatorship law is complex and filing the proper paperwork and providing the required notifications can be difficult even in the rare case that seems relatively straightforward. The success of your petition depends on many factors, including the quality of your legal counsel.
Contact Our Compassionate Honolulu Conservatorship Lawyers Today
If you are facing the difficult questions surrounding conservatorship, The Sands Law Group, APLC can help. Our experienced legal team offers flat-fee consultations so that we can learn about your circumstances and discuss how our attentive team of Honolulu conservatorship attorneys can help you care for your loved one. Don’t let financial concerns prevent you from seeking qualified advice—we pride ourselves on providing tailored legal support for every budget. Contact us now to schedule a confidential consultation today.