When a person in Massachusetts does not have the capacity to manage his or her own financial affairs, the court may appoint someone to be a conservator. According to the Massachusetts Guardianship Association, this cannot happen without an evaluation and an official medical certificate from a licensed professional.
Mass.gov explains that the evaluation cannot take place without the individual’s consent, unless he or she has a medical condition that would prevent the ability to provide it. The reason must be given on the certificate. The examination must occur within 30 days of the court case.
There are three factors that must be present on the certificate before a court will appoint a conservator. These include the following:
- A clinically diagnosed condition
- The inability to understand information, make decisions or communicate them
- The ownership of property that would be lost through mismanagement without assistance
The condition does not have to be permanent; a conservator could be appointed for temporary incapacity. For example, someone who has had a severe stroke may recover faculties and be able to take care of his or her own affairs in the future. The conservatorship may also be limited only to specific management needs, such as:
- Managing a checking account
- Buying or leasing property
- Hiring a caregiver
- Preventing exploitation
- Using credit
The patient has the right to be at the hearing unless it would negatively affect his or her condition. If it would, the clinician should include any accommodations that would mitigate the effects, or the reason that the person should not attend at all.