Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Can an Involuntarily Conserved Person Make a Will?

The decedent, William, died on February 19, 2014. In 2006, he executed a Will naming his three children (Andrew, Zelda and Jonathan) from a prior marriage as beneficiaries. The children’s mother was deceased. William was married at his death to Frances. They were married for 33 years. Some time before William died, he suffered from several illnesses which included severe anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder from his service during World War II, mild to moderate dementia, impaired hearing and frequent urinary tract infections. As a result of his health issues, William was hospitalized at a residential psychiatric facility. In October of 2011, Frances filed an involuntary application for the appointment of a conservator of her husband’s person and estate. Following a hearing, a Connecticut Probate Court appointed her to be her husband’s conservator.
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Can a Conservator Sue for a Divorce on Behalf of a Conserved Person?

In 2009, two sisters brought an involuntary petition before a Connecticut Probate Court to have their father conserved. Jeannine sought appointment as the conservator of her father’s person, so that she could make decisions regarding her father’s health and well-being. Her sister, Jennifer, sought appointment as the conservator of her father’s estate, so that she could pay his bills. The Court granted the sisters’ petition and appointed each of them to the roles that they were seeking.

Approximately one week later, the father’s wife and the mother of the two sisters, sued the father for a dissolution of marriage (hereinafter a “divorce”). In the complaint, the wife, Gloria, alleged that her husband was incompetent. She named Jeannine and Jennifer as defendants, as conservators for her husband. Approximately one month later, the sisters on behalf of their father filed a cross complaint seeking a divorce. Some months later, Gloria filed a motion to dismiss the cross complaint, claiming that Jeannine and Jennifer could not bring a divorce action against her on behalf of their father. In their objection, the sisters claimed that a conservator does have the right to bring a divorce action on behalf of a conserved person because they were acting in his best interests. The trial court agreed with the wife and granted her motion to dismiss. Jeannine and Jennifer appealed this decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court. The issue for the Court was whether conservators of an involuntarily conserved person can seek a divorce on behalf of the conserved person.