With the Britney Spears melodrama for inspiration, I thought I’d tell you a few things about conservatories.

Establishing a conservatory begins with filing an application with a probate court asking the court to put someone – a so-called “restorer” – in charge of the financial affairs of the person whose abilities allegedly fail, which are considered “protected.” Person ”. Before the motion can be upheld, the court (in Colorado at least) must be presented with clear and convincing evidence that the protected person “is unable to manage property and business because the person is unable to obtain information effectively maintain or evaluate or both or make decisions or communicate. … “

The protected person must be informed about the procedure and is entitled to a lawyer. The court may also appoint a person known as a “visitor” to conduct an investigation aimed at providing the court with an objective analysis of the need for a restorer.

The conservator, when appointed, assumes the position of trustee, which means that the protected person is owed the duty of the greatest loyalty and honesty. The court issues the conservator with an official (and official-looking) document that can be used by the conservator to take over the protected person’s assets and liabilities. The court may adapt the curator’s powers to the particular circumstances of the case.

Once a conservator has been appointed, the protected person is deprived of the power to conduct his or her own financial affairs. The law also protects against liability people who deal with the protected person in good faith and without knowledge of the existence of a restoration. So a protected person can still wreak havoc if not carefully watched.

The motivation for a conservatory sometimes comes from children who fear that a parent in decline will squander family wealth before it can be passed on as inheritance. This is not a fair reason for a restoration. Rather, the purpose should be to preserve assets in the “best interests” of the protected person. Preservation of wealth in the interests of the protected person can (incidentally) also have the effect of preserving wealth for an inheritance if the protected person dies.

Colorado has its share of conservatory melodramas. In a recent case, a man named Bernard Black – a full law professor at Northwestern University School of Law – was found to have violated a duty of loyalty to his sister, the protected person, as a conservator. This break involved a diversion of assets from a trust set up by the late mother to meet her daughter’s needs to a trust in which her son, the conservator’s children, had an interest. This dispute over control of the late mother’s property found its way in eight courts in three states (meaning much of the mother’s property has now been consumed by the legal profession).

In another case that went before the Colorado Court of Appeals, Matthew Keenan, a protected individual, attempted to dismiss a bank that was acting as its curator. The bank struggled, and the dispute merged into a dispute for $ 200,000 plus legal fees and costs claimed by the bank.

Jim Flynn can be reached at moneylaw@jtflynn.com.