By Stan Butterfield

What are the duties of a conservator? The purpose of this post is to summarize the duties of a conservator for a minor or incapacitated person. This list is a pretty good summary for conservators in the state of Oregon. However, specific duties do vary from one state to another. The duties of a conservator are also distinct from the duties of a guardian. To learn more about the duties of a guardian, click here. If you have any questions about specific rights or duties involved in a conservatorship, please ask a lawyer.

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The conservator must exercise scrupulous good faith in the management of the protected person’s affairs. Everything the conservator does must be for the benefit of the protected person and to protect his or her economic interests. The following list describes some of the conservator’s important duties.

1. Take possession of all the property of the protected person and the income arising from that property.

2. If real property of the protected person is located in a county other than the county of appointment, you must file a certified copy of the inventory or a real property abstract in the county or counties where that real property is located.

3. Within 90 days of appointment, you must file with the court an inventory of all property of the protected person. This must include all property of the protected person that you know about or that has come into your possession. Amend the inventory in case of later-discovered property.

4. Pay the obligations of the protected person that are chargeable against the conservatorship estate.

5. Make prudent investments with the conservatorship assets. In most cases, this will require the advice of a professional.

6. When managing the conservatorship assets, take into consideration the estate plan of the protected person, including review of any will, trusts, or joint ownership arrangements.

7. Evaluate the need to obtain insurance on conservatorship assets and obtain such insurance if advisable.

8. Pay, contest, or settle claims submitted against the conservatorship estate.

9. Prepare and submit necessary tax returns.

10. Set up a separate conservatorship bank account. Depending on the county in which the conservatorship is filed, the conservator may be required to have checks returned to you by the bank and to submit those canceled checks to the court with their periodic accountings. This requirement has been rare for some time now and it may well be that the hold out counties have discontinued this practice as well. I haven’t checked the current status on this requirement for every county in Oregon.

11. Carefully account for all income and expenditures. The first accounting is due 13 months from the date of the conservator’s appointment and annually on that same day of the year thereafter. Written statements of all accounts and a final accounting upon termination of the conservatorship must be prepared and filed with the court as well.

12. The conservator should submit a list of disbursements, including check numbers, in chronological order with each account filed with the court, as well as a statement from depositories showing current balances. Some counties may require the conservator to file canceled checks. See my note in paragraph 10 regarding this possible requirement.

13. Copies of the accountings, at a minimum, must be provided to the protected person, the protected person’s spouse, parents of a minor under age 14, any guardian appointed for the protected person or personal representative of the estate, and other persons either requesting notice through the court or directed to be notified by the court.

14. Court approval must be obtained before payment can be made to the conservator, or to a lawyer who is the lawyer for the conservator.

15. When the court is satisfied that the protected person’s disability no longer exists, the conservator must pay all claims and expenses of administration, and the conservator must file a final accounting with the court. The conservator must then distribute all funds and properties to the former minor or protected person as soon as possible.

16. Upon the death of the protected person, the conservator must deliver to the court any will of the deceased that has come into your possession, inform the personal representative or a beneficiary named in the will that you have done so, and preserve the conservatorship estate for delivery to the personal representative of the deceased protected person.

Stan Butterfield is a lawyer in Dallas, Oregon and practices in Polk, Marion, Yamhill, and Linn counties. If you are concerned for the health and safety of a loved one and believe that you may need to establish a guardianship or conservatorship, give him a call–(503) 623-2427.