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Conservatorship is a legal concept in the United States of America, where an entity or organization is subjected to the legal control of an external entity or organization, known as a conservator. Conservatorship is established either by court order (with regards to individuals) or via a statutory or regulatory authority (with regards to organizations). When referring to government control of private corporations such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, conservatorship implies a more temporary control than does nationalisation. In other legal terms, a conservatorship may refer to the legal responsibilities over a person who is mentally ill, including those who are psychotic, suicidal, incapacitated or is in some other way unable to make legal, medical or financial decisions on behalf of themselves.[1]



Most jurisdictions use the term "guardianship" to refer to the same legal principle (in California, conservatorships are for adults and guardianships are for children). More often, and in all jurisdictions that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, a conservator, who is granted control of the protected person's estate, (see Estate (law)) is distinguished from a guardian, who is granted control of the protected person's "person", or body. To illustrate, a protected person's conservator has authority to take money belonging to the protected person and use it to buy food for the protected person's consumption; a guardian has authority to have a feeding tube used to put nourishment into the protected person's stomach. It is not uncommon for one person to hold both offices and be referred to as the "guardian and conservator" of the protected person, even though, technically, he or she is "conservator" not of the protected person but of the protected person's estate. A person under conservatorship is a "conservatee;" a person under guardianship is a "ward". These terms may be found in use in U.P.C. jurisdictions, even though the U.P.C. uses the term "protected person" in either case. In most states, a court visitor or some other investigatory person or agency must review the facts of the case and submit a report, usually required to be in writing, to the court before the court makes a decision on the request to establish a conservatorship or guardianship. Court visitors are often required to be experts in some appropriate field, such as social work or law. Procedures for conservatorship of an adult are often different from those for minors.

The court may appoint an attorney to represent the proposed conservatee or ward. If the proposed conservatee or ward is unable to have an attorney-client relationship because of some impairment, the court may appoint a guardian-ad-litem (who is often also an attorney). A guardian-ad-litem does not take instruction from the client, but rather tells the court what the guardian-ad-litem thinks is in the best interests of the proposed conservatee or ward, whether or not that is what the proposed conservatee or ward wants.

Conservatorships are generally put in place for severely mentally ill individuals or seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's.

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