Category Archives: Conservatorships

Conservatorships in Connecticut.

On CT Probate Court Reform and Taxing Legal Services

By Ryan McKeen

I love those new light bulbs, you know, the spiral kind.  Their packaging tells me that I can save $120 a year or something if I replace my old fashioned light bulbs. Having changed out my bulbs – they’re not kidding, I do save money on my monthly electric bill.

The problem is to save that money, I must first spend money on new bulbs.  If I didn’t have any money, I’d be stuck with my old bulbs which would cost me more money each month and I’d be poorer because of it.

Cool New Light Bulb

Cool New Light Bulb

The Hartford Courant does near weekly articles on how much our probate courts cost and how they’re nearly bankrupt.

One of the reasons probate courts operate at a deficit is conservatorships. If a person doesn’t have money the court appoints an attorney for the proposed conserved person and pays that attorney at a rate of $50 an hour. If the person is conserved, the court also pays a conservator $50 an hour to manage that person’s affairs.

One of the most effective ways to prevent a conservatorship proceeding is to execute a living will and power of attorney.  People often end up conserved because for one reason or another they fail to do any advanced planning.

Sometimes perceived cost is a reason people don’t see an attorney to do a living will or a power of attorney. 

Consequently, our state pays more for conservatorships because people don’t do advanced planning.

It’s like we’re running our state on old light bulbs. 

What the legislature should consider is a tax credit on legal fees for people who do some advanced planning. 

What the legislature is doing is considering a tax on legal services and raising the attorney occupational tax – both of which will result in a higher cost of legal services for residents of Connecticut.

Raising the cost of legal services for the middle class is about as short sighted as the state deciding to raise taxes on those cool new light bulbs.

I’ll Take Superior Court Probate Mediation For $1,000, Alex

I hope that you have had a happy and safe holiday season.

Here at A Connecticut Law Blog, I’m ready to hit the ground running in 2009. The Pats aren’t in the playoffs, truck day is still 5 weeks away, and I’m feeling energized.

This post comes from a merger of two ideas. First, as Rick Green often writes about, contested conservatorship proceedings can be ugly to say the least. Second, the more I litigate, the more I believe in mediation.

A contested conservatorship can cost a person his or her life savings and dignity. It’s possible in a drawn out proceeding for a proposed conserved person to pay for an attorney, a GAL, and the petitioner’s attorney.

Most conservatorship proceedings are not long protracted battles that end up in Mr. Green’s columns. Probate judges, litigants and lawyers do their jobs and you never read about it.

Then there’s those cases that make the headlines.

For those cases, how about mediation?

Connecticut Superior Courts use mediation in all housing cases, family cases, and by agreement of the parties in contested civil matters. Recently, the foreclosure mediation program has gained acclaim. Why do courts use mediation? Because it works.

I think, a proposed conserved person, should have the option of mediating the proceeding before a superior court judge prior to a contested hearing in probate court. 

This would give a proposed conserved person, who maybe unhappy with probate court venue, an option to have his or her case heard before a superior court judge prior to incurring thousands of dollars in fees.

Avoiding a conservatorship

Rick Green wrote this article about how ugly a conservatorship proceeding can turn in Connecticut.

I’ve represented people who have been involved in very difficult conservatorship proceedings that end up being a drain on not only their finances but their dignity.

Contested conservatorship proceedings can be ugly for all involved.

The unfortunate thing is that often times contested conservatorship hearings are avoidable.

Connecticut’s new conservatorship laws gives great deference to the choices of the individual and to considering means less restrictive than a conservatorship.

In many instances, a contested hearing can  be avoided  with a little advanced planning.

It’s important for all Connecticut residents to consider what would happen to them if they were to become suddenly incapacitated – even and perhaps especially young people.

If you haven’t already you should speak with a Connecticut attorney regarding: an appointment of a healthcare agent, a living trust, a will, a designation of conservator, a voluntary conservatorship, a living will, and a power of an attorney.

Every situation is different and only an attorney who knows your case can advise you on how best to plan for incapacity and possibly prevent the need to be conserved.

A little advanced planning can save you money, protect your wishes, and possibly spare your family a bitter proceeding.

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This is an updated post which was first published in March.

Shining A Light On Connecticut’s Probate Courts

Rick Green is at it again, as he should be:

I think we need to shine a bright, glaring light on the often-obscure world of probate court in Connecticut. We need to ask why life-changing legal decisions are still made in courts where 40 percent of the judges aren’t even lawyers. We need to ask why we have more than 100 courts sprinkled across a tiny state when what’s needed is consolidation and judges with real legal training, like law school and experience practicing law. Hartford Courant, 5/6/2008

There are excellent probate judges in Connecticut. That’s not a debatable point.

Still, questions of the system and the administration of justice in Connecticut’s probate court should continue to be asked.

Mr. Green should continue to shed a “bright glaring light, on the often-obscure world of probate court in Connecticut.”

One of the oddities in conservatorship law is the absence of case law. I’ve often heard lawyers remark that Connecticut has a shallow body of case law.  Case law is both instructive and vital to the practice of law.

The only published decisions in conservatorship cases come as the result of Superior Court appeals which are rare.  Probate court decisions are not published. Therefore, probate court judges can’t see how other judges are interpreting statutes and applying the law.

The lack of published decisions is shocking considering that one’s liberty and civil rights are at stake in a conservatorship proceeding.

 

 

Why bLAWg? Marketing

I’m going green for earth day.

Why bLAWg? Reason 2: Marketing

I read lots of ABA materials about how blogs can be used to generate business. Invariably the advice goes something like this:

  • Register a blog with a domain name like www.ctfamilylawyerblog.com (I think it’s an available URL);
  • Write about 1 area of law and 1 area of law only;
  • Post links to other blogs on your website; and
  • Lace your entries with keywords that people are likely to search.

I do none of those things. If you want your blog to generate a ton of business for you – do not use this blog as a template.

If this blog were music it would be jazz.

Here’s a shameless attempt to lace this post with searchwords: Sometimes, I write about areas of law that I practice (personal injury, family law, probate, elder law, housing law, conservatorships, collections, child custody child support,  real estate, home improvement law). I could never write about just 1 area of law because I don’t practice just 1 area of law.

Sometimes, I write about seaweed law. Sometimes, I write about John Trautwein.

This blog is a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get from entry to entry. I never know what I’m going to write about.

I don’t have a long blogroll because I don’t like clutter. Blogs with too many links distract me. When I read something in a blog that I like, I link to it in my entry.

For example, I really enjoy www.apublicdefender.com and Norm Pattis’ blog. I’ve mentioned before that the godfather of this blog is:  www.connecticutemploymentlawblog.com.  Susan Cartier Liebel’s blog is a great resource for small firm attorneys.  Enough with the shameless linking.

You see, when someone links to my blog, I receive notification that they have linked to me. The idea or so I read is to market your blog to other bloggers who will in turn blog about your blog.

Anyhow, the total number of clients that I can trace directly to this blog is: zero!!!

This month alone, I’ve had 64 hits from the Slovak Republic! Hello to my Slovakian readers. 

 I’ve also had hits from China, Japan, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Poland, Brazil, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Great Britain, Switzerland, and a place that shows up only as: European Country (France, I’m looking at you).  Who knows, maybe I can one day achieve a “Johnny Drama in Viking Quest” like popularity overseas.

I could and perhaps should do a better job at marketing this blog and “optimizing it for google” but that’s not me. I’m not a lawyer who is comfortable with my face on the side of a bus or a billboard or on the back of your phone book.  That works for some attorneys but it’s not for me.

For me this blog works as a marketing tool in a very different way. What I want is someone to get my name from an existing client or some other referral source and then “google” my name. What I hope that person will find is a nice website about Connecticut law. Maybe, I’ll have written about an issue that is important to that person.

I also hope the prospective client will get a sense of who I am as a person. I try to keep things light in this blog (e.g. Don’t Dye the Easter Bunny). I write about baseball because I like baseball. I post links to local events that I enjoy.  

This blog is for you, the Slovakian guy, logging into this site at 3 a.m. eastern standard time, and reading about John Trautwein.

 

What Is A Conservator and What Does A Conservator Do?

I hear and read a lot about conservatorships in Connecticut.

What is a conservator?

What does a conservator do?

In Connecticut, a proposed conserved person is required by statute to receive a notice of the possible consequences of a conservatorship. The notice offers a good general explaination of what a conservatorship is, your rights in a conservatorship proceeding and a basic idea of what a conservator does:

“POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF THE APPOINTMENT OF A CONSERVATOR FOR YOUThis court has received an application to appoint a conservator for you. A conservator is a court-appointed legal guardian who may be assigned important decision-making authority over your affairs.

If the application is granted and a conservator is appointed for you, you will lose some of your rights.A permanent conservator may only be appointed for you after a court hearing.

You have the right to attend the hearing on the application for appointment of a permanent conservator. If you are not able to access the court where the hearing will be held, you may request that the hearing be moved to a convenient location, even to your place of residence.

You should have an attorney represent you at the hearing on the application. If you are unable to obtain an attorney to represent you at the hearing, the court will appoint an attorney for you. If you are unable to pay for representation by an attorney, the court will pay attorney fees as permitted by the court’s rules. Even if you qualify for payment of an attorney on your behalf, you may choose an attorney if the attorney will accept the attorney fees permitted by the court’s rules. If, after a hearing on the application, the court decides that you lack the ability to care for yourself, pay your bills or otherwise manage your affairs, the court may review any alternative plans you have to get assistance to handle your own affairs that do not require appointment of a conservator. If the court decides that there are no adequate alternatives to the appointment of a conservator, the court may appoint a conservator and assign the conservator responsibility for some or all of the duties listed below. While the purpose of a conservator is to help you, you should be aware that the appointment of a conservator limits your rights. Among the areas that may be affected are:

– Accessing and budgeting your money

– Deciding where you live

– Making medical decisions for you

– Paying your bills

– Managing your real and personal property.

You may participate in the selection of your conservator. If you have already designated a conservator or if you inform the court of your choice for a conservator, the court must honor your request unless the court decides that the person designated by you is not appropriate.The conservator appointed for you may be a lawyer, a public official or someone whom you did not know before the appointment. The conservator will be required to make regular reports to the court about you. The conservator may charge you a fee, under the supervision of the court, for being your conservator.” Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-649

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Looking for an attorney that handles all aspects of conservatorships? Check out www.ctconservatorlawyers.com


Avoiding a Conservatorship in Connecticut

Rick Green wrote this article about how ugly a conservatorship proceeding can turn in Connecticut.

I’ve represented people who have been involved in very difficult conservatorship proceedings that end up being a drain on not only their finances but their dignity.

Contested conservatorship proceedings are often harder fought than Hillary v. Obama. They’re ugly for all involved.

The real unfortunate thing is that often times contested conservatorship hearings are avoidable. Connecticut’s new conservatorship laws gives great deference to the choices of the individual and to considering means less restrictive than a conservatorship.

Often, I find myself involved in a proceeding thinking that it could have been avoided if only the proposed conserved person had done a little advanced planning.

I think it’s important for all Connecticut residents to consider what would happen to them if they were to become suddenly incapacitated – even and perhaps especially young people.

If you haven’t already you should speak with a Connecticut attorney regarding: an appointment of a healthcare agent, a living trust, a will, a designation of conservator, a voluntary conservatorship, a living will, and a power of an attorney.

Every situation is different and only an attorney who knows your case can advise you on how best to plan for incapacity and possibly prevent the need to be conserved. Whatever your age, do yourself and your family a favor and do this today.