Acting as a conservator for a minor is a difficult but important task. A conservator must use the assets of the minor only for the minor’s support, care, education or benefit and never for the benefit of the conservator. If a conservator is misusing a minor’s funds in some cases they can be exposed to potential personal liability or court sanctions.
The parents or guardian of a minor child may petition the court for a conservatorship for a minor under several circumstances. Those circumstances are set forth in Arizona Revised Statute § 14-5401. While this list is not exhaustive, the general circumstances are as follows:
– The minor may own property that needs management, or is otherwise uncollectable due to the minority.
– The minor may own money or funds that need management, or are otherwise uncollectable due to the minority – The minor may have business or affairs that may be put at risk or wasted due to the minority.
– The minor may have funds set up for the minor’s support or education that need management and protection.
Once the petition is filed with the court, and notice has been given, the court will hold a hearing to determine if a conservatorship is appropriate. In order for a conservatorship to be established the court must find that the minor is unable to manage their own affairs and that the property will be wasted if not properly managed.
A conservatorship may continue beyond the minor’s eighteenth birthday if the court determines the conservatorship is appropriate. A second petition must be filed in compliance with establishing a normal conservatorship and it must be filed before the minor’s seventeenth birthday and before the original conservatorship expires. For more information on how to set up a conservatorship for an adult, refer to our blog entitled “Guardianships and Conservatorships for Adults”.
Unlike a conservatorship for an adult, there is generally no need for a physician’s report or attorney to be appointed for the minor’s conservatorship. The conservatorship can be appointed for a period of time, or for a limited purpose or transaction. The limitations of the conservatorship are set forth in the letters of appointment issued by the court. The conservator only has authority as set forth in the letters and the conservatorship cannot exceed those limitations.
Once a conservatorship is established a fiduciary duty is created between the conservator and the minor. When dealing with a minor’s property or affairs a conservator must always act prudently and must keep thorough and accurate records of all transactions, accounts and information. A conservator must file of an inventory with the court as well as file annual accountings for all transactions and records that within an accounting period.
Not all cases require appointment of a conservator, if you, or someone you know needs help establishing a conservatorship for a minor, contact one of our experienced attorney today for a consultation to determine of a conservatorship is the right choice and to discuss the possibility of alternatives that may better suit your particular situation.