Challenging ConservatorshipWhen a person experiences cognitive impairment due to a medical or mental health disorder, injury, or disease, it can have a profound impact on their daily life.  Under some circumstances, the person’s condition may be so severe that it is questionable if they can effectively manage their finances.  In this situation, it may be necessary for the court to appoint a conservator who will be responsible for maintaining and protecting the person’s financial assets.  However, in some cases, a conservatorship may not be the best solution, and it will, therefore, be necessary to oppose this appointment.  Here is what you need to know about challenging conservatorship in Michigan.

What is a Conservatorship?

In Michigan, the court has the power to appoint someone to serve as conservator for an incapacitated individual who can no longer handle their financial estate.  The legal relationship or “conservatorship” allows the designated person to take on the incapacitated person’s financial tasks such as managing their assets and property, safeguarding accounts, and dealing with their financial business affairs.

What Happens Before a Conservatorship Hearing?

The court will take specific steps before someone can be appointed as a person’s conservator.  The first step is that someone who is concerned about the person will file a petition with the probate court which sets out why they think the person requires a conservatorship.  Additionally, anyone who may be negatively affected by the person’s ineffective management of their property or business matters may also petition. The next thing which will happen is that the probate court will then investigate the facts alleged in the petition and decide whether the person will also need to be appointed an attorney.  Additionally, in most cases, a court-designated physician will examine the person’s competency and report their findings to the court.  The person may also pay for their own examination with a physician of their choosing.  If the person does not agree to the conservatorship, they may hire an attorney, or the judge must appoint one to represent them in a contested hearing.

The Conservatorship Hearing

The court will schedule a hearing during which it will hear evidence from both the person who filed the petition and the person who is the possible subject of the conservatorship.  During the hearing, the court will hear evidence in order to determine if the person is not able to manage their property and business affairs effectively for reasons such as mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, or chronic intoxication.  The court will also have to decide if the person has property which will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided, or money is needed for their support, care, and welfare or for those entitled to their support, and that protection is necessary to obtain or provide proper support from the person’s resources.  After the hearing is concluded, the court will then decide if the conservatorship is necessary.

 Someone who wants to contest a conservatorship will need to work with their attorney to gather evidence of their competency.  This may include medical records, email communications, business documents and other items which reflect that they are lucid and capable of managing their affairs.  The person may also testify and call witnesses who can attest to their functioning. Having experienced counsel during this process can make a significant difference as they are well-versed in the law and can assist you in effectively presenting your case.

When a loved one is facing conservatorship, it is important to understand the process and how to demonstrate your case in opposition successfully.  Our office has knowledge about and experience with conservatorships and can help you understand this process.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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