At some point, you might be asked to act as a conservator for a friend or family member. In this capacity, you handle their finances and/or personal care. Conservatorship proceedings and responsibilities vary by state. If you take on this role for a Hawaii resident, here’s a breakdown of what to expect.
What to Know About Conservatorship in Hawaii
When an adult isn’t competent enough to manage their own finances, a conservator can be assigned by the Hawaii Probate Court. This is often the case when the conservatee has Alzheimer’s disease, severe dementia, a brain injury, or mental impairment. A conservator can also be appointed for adults in comas or those who have had debilitating strokes.
A relative or friend petitions the court to appoint a conservator. In the paperwork, they must give a reason why the person can no longer act in their own best interests. The court then sends an investigator, known in Hawaii as a Kokua Kanawai, to interview the individual and judge their competency. The findings are included in a report.
A hearing is then scheduled where the judge reviews the report, speaks to the intended conservatee, and decides whether a conservator is needed. If so, the parameters of conservatorship are outlined. The court oversees the conservator’s management of finances and reviews the information in annual reports.
To avoid conservatorship, you should have provisions in your estate plan regarding what should be done if you’re unable to handle your affairs. Assigning power of attorney gives a chosen individual the legal right to manage finances and business transactions on your behalf. Durable power of attorney is similar, though typically lasts longer and grants more control over your finances; for example, the attorney-in-fact can pay bills and file taxes on your behalf.
It’s also possible to put savings, life insurance, stocks, and bonds in a living trust. The appointed trustee or successor trustee will make decisions if the trustor cannot.
If a relative or friend needs conservatorship, the attorneys at Ng & Niebling will help you start the process. Based in Honolulu, HI, they have over 40 years of experience providing estate planning assistance to Oahu families. To schedule a consultation, call (808) 732-7788. Visit the law firm online to learn more about each counselor’s credentials.