Conservator Conflict of Interest, Conservator Ad Litem

A conservator manages the finances of a minor or incapacitated individual, the “protectee.” “The primary purpose of a conservatorship is to provide financial assistance” to a protectee. Estate of Ewing v. Bryan, 883 S.W.2d 545, 548 (Mo. Ct. App. 1994). As a fiduciary, a conservator must handle money or property not for “his [or her] own benefit, but for the benefit of another person, as to whom he [or she] stands in a relation implying and necessitating great confidence and trust on the one part and a high degree of good faith on the other part.” Id. at 548-49 (citing Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Ed.). Further, a conservator is “under a duty to act in the interest of the protectee and to avoid conflicts of interest which impair the conservator’s ability so to act.” § 475.130.1, RSMo.

There is a statutory procedure available when a conservator has a conflict of interest in which the court may appoint a temporary or limited conservator. Specifically, under § 475.097, RSMo, the Court may appoint a conservator ad litem if it is “suggested in a petition” or if it “affirmatively appears to the court that there is a possible conflict of interest between the ward or protectee and his guardian or conservator.”

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