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Dunedin Conservatorship Lawyer

Tragically, it sometimes happens that a loved one disappears and is feared dead. For example, elderly persons with dementia have been known to wander off the grounds of their nursing home or assisted living facility and go missing. Sometimes they return or are found later that day or weeks later, and sometimes they never return. In these heartbreaking situations, while doing all you can to work, hope and pray for your loved one’s safe return, it might be necessary to seek a conservatorship over their estate. A conservatorship gives a family member or other qualified person the authority to manage the absent person’s estate for their benefit should they return or for the benefit of the estate’s heirs and beneficiaries should they not come back. Without a conservatorship, a person’s valuable estate could wither away, which only adds to the tragedy in what is already a devastating situation for all concerned.

Hopefully, you will never need a conservatorship for a missing family member, but if you do, Messina Law Group can guide you and assist you to help the process move forward swiftly and successfully for the sake of your loved one and their loved ones as well. Contact our dedicated Dunedin conservatorship lawyer to get the help you need in a time of crisis.

What Does a Conservator Do?

A conservator is a person appointed by the court when ordering a conservatorship. The conservator takes possession of the absent person’s property and manages it to preserve or enhance its value, such as by making prudent investments or ensuring the property is properly maintained. If the absentee is found or returns and is competent to manage their assets, the court will terminate the conservatorship and transfer all the property back to the absentee or his or her designated attorney in fact under a power of attorney. If it turns out that the absentee has died, the court will likewise terminate the conservatorship and transfer the deceased’s property to the executor or administrator appointed for the estate.

Who Can Serve as a Conservator?

The court ordering the conservatorship is responsible for appointing the conservator. This can be any person the court deems to be a fit and proper person qualified to act as a conservator. Although the conservator does not have to be a close relative, Florida law requires the judge to give due consideration to the appointment of a next of kin if deemed appropriate. Conservators are bound under oath to perform their duties faithfully and render true accounts of the estate whenever required by law. The court can even require a conservator to post a bond as surety that they will perform their duties faithfully. Florida law also provides a procedure for the resignation or removal of a conservator when necessary.

What Happens to a Person’s Property Without a Conservatorship?

Without a conservatorship in place, family members can face a difficult time trying to manage a missing family member’s property. Florida law does provide a summary procedure for the wife of an absentee, or his next of kin if he has no wife, to sell or transfer property valued at less than $5,000 by filing a Petition for Summary Relief in court. A somewhat more complicated procedure is involved if the property is valued at $5,000 or more.

In the best-case scenario, the absentee had previously engaged in comprehensive estate planning that included drafting a durable power of attorney (POA). If a POA is already in place, the person designated as the absentee’s agent or attorney in fact can manage their financial affairs without having to go to court or secure a conservatorship. This is one of the reasons we recommend including a durable power of attorney in every estate plan.

Contact Messina Law Group for Help With Conservatorships in Dunedin

If you find yourself in need of a conservatorship for a missing person, or for other estate planning and probate matters in Dunedin, call on Messina Law Group for advice and representation from our skilled and trusted Dunedin conservatorship lawyer. We’ll help you explore your options, guide you and assist you in finding the best solution to your situation.

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