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A conservatee is a person deemed incompetent by a court and, therefore, a court appointed conservator handles their financial and/or other daily life affairs. The roles of conservator and conservatee follow from the legal concept of conservatorship which is similar to legal guardianship. Conservatorships are typically governed by state laws. 

Generally, conservatees are people.

  • For example, in Compton v. Pfannenstiel, a grandmother was affirmed as the conservator of two child conservatees because the children were incapable of handling their own affairs.

That said, businesses or other organizations can also be placed into conservatorship on occasion.

Not all conservatorships are absolute, and the conservatee may retain certain rights to handle their own affairs. 

  • For example, in California, a conservatee may retain the right to directly receive their salary, draft their will, have a lawyer, get mail, and more. 

Additionally, conservatees have the right to challenge the conservator’s actions in managing the conservatee’s affairs. If the conservatee’s rights are violated, the conservatee or the conservatee’s family may petition to replace the conservator.

The degree of control retained by the conservatee depends upon the type of conservatorship.

  • For example, in a limited conservatorship, a conservatee retains most of their decision-making power for everything but the affairs specifically listed by the court. In contrast, a general conservatorship strips the conservatee of most of their decision-making power.

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]