Contested conservatorships are difficult and often acrimonious. I have extensive experience in contested conservatorship litigation, representing both the individuals seeking a conservatorship and the individuals opposing a conservatorship. This often includes family members and occasionally the person for whom the conservatorship is being sought. As to the latter, for example, I successfully represented an elderly gentleman who clearly had sufficient capacity, but whose adult child improperly sought to have him conserved. I also represent private professional fiduciaries who are often appointed by the court when relatives file competing conservatorship petitions.
Spouses seeking a conservatorship of a spouse with dementia appear most often to be genuinely concerned about looking out for what is in the best interests of the incapacitated spouse. However, there are times when that is not the case, such as when the spouse physically and/or financially abuses the frail spouse. I have been appointed as counsel on a couple of such cases and had a case in which the wife and her family were the perpetrators. When I visited the husband/conservatee, he indicated how heartbroken he was and that he wanted a divorce, which could be sought on his behalf through a conservator of the estate or guardian ad litem.
Often in contested conservatorship cases it is the adult children who are fighting over control of the incapacitated parent/parents. Fortunately, families will sometimes come together and attempt to cooperate, occasionally through mediation. Unfortunately, other times they will not come together, and unpleasant, expensive litigation ensues. The litigation can be highly charged and costly and can take a tremendous toll on the parent with dementia. The outcome of such family battles frequently leads to court appointed counsel recommending and the court appointing a private professional fiduciary to serve as conservator.