Both a power of attorney and a conservator are legal appointments made to help other people handle their financial affairs. The difference between the two lies in when these appointments are actually made.
- Power of Attorney: established before a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to make financial decisions on their own (a durable power of attorney will continue if the person becomes incapacitated in the future)
- Conservator: established after a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to make financial decisions on their own (this can be a general or limited conservatorship)
An agent under power of attorney is named in a durable financial power of attorney. This is the ideal way to help protect your estate because you can choose the person you trust most with your financial well-being. In most cases, having a power of attorney in place will ensure that a conservatorship will not be needed. In contrast, someone else will have to request that a conservator be named for you (because you will be unable to make that decision if incapacitated). In order to do this, a petition must be filed with the courts to verify that you are, indeed, unable to make your own financial decisions. The courts will ultimately decide who that conservator will be.
Both of these responsibilities are carried out while you are still alive but require different levels of assistance with financial affairs. A power of attorney in Denver can be set up to provide complete financial handling or just specific duties (you decide!). A conservator in Colorado will be responsible for all financial duties such as:
- Paying monthly bills
- Managing investments
- Determining the value of property or real estate
- Purchasing small and large items
- Selling large items like a car, home or rental property
- Filing tax returns
- Filing appropriate forms with the Court regarding financial dealings
- Getting court approval for certain duties
Power of attorney and conservator appointees are required to keep detailed records of all transactions. Conservators are required to report those to the court so they remain accountable to the protected person.