Conservatorship: Whether it overrides a POA depends on this

Many Georgia families include elder members who are suffering from various stages of mental decline. There is often more than one person, such as adult children of the loved one, who are trying to work together to protect their loved one's rights and best interests. The problem is that siblings often encounter challenges when they disagree about what is best for an aging parent. Such situations sometimes lead to petitions for conservatorship.

When a court appoints a conservator, it is granting decision-making authority to a person on behalf of a ward, in this case, an aging parent who has become mentally incapacitated. The guardian/conservator is tasked with managing the ward's financial and medical issues as long as the ward is unable to do so because of his or her condition. A court-appointed conservatorship often nullifies an existing power of attorney. 

There are exceptions, however, such as if the ward signed a durable POA while he or she was still of sound mind. If this is so, the POA remains in effect. State laws typically set the requirements for serving as a conservator. A basic requirement is that the person appointed must be age 18 or older.

If the ward in question is unable to express his or her wishes in any way, the court will carefully review any and all documents he or she signed before becoming incapacitated, such as a durable power of attorney or last will and testament. Consideration of such documents helps the court choose a conservator. Any Georgia resident currently concerned about elder law issues such as conservatorship may wish to speak with an attorney who is well-versed in such issues, which is often the first logical step to take when searching for solutions to sibling disputes that involve an incapacitated parent.

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