Becoming a conservator is a significant commitment and can take up a lot of time. This leads to many people wondering how much a conservator gets paid.
Conservators receive reimbursement for their expenses, and they must receive "reasonable" payment. In practice, family members who serve as conservators do not always receive payment unless they make an explicit request. Professional conservators earn an average of about $26 an hour or $53,634 a year.
Take a closer look at the compensation that conservators receive, as well as how that compensation can vary based on location and other factors.
How Much Do Conservators Get Paid? Your Complete Guide
If you are thinking of becoming a conservator for a loved one or becoming a professional conservator, you may want to know how much people in this role get paid. You may also be curious if a loved one needs a conservatorship, even if you aren't the conservator, as you will want to know how this impacts their finances.
Explore the role of a conservator in a bit more detail, then take a look at how much they get paid.
What Is A Conservator?
Before getting into how much a conservator is paid, you should understand what this job entails. Conservators are a key part of conservatorships. Conservators have the authority and responsibility to manage the affairs of someone who can't manage their own decisions regarding health care and finances. Conservators are court-ordered.
Conservators can be family members of the person in the conservatorship (the conservatee), or they may be professionals.
Legally, Conservators Are Paid "Reasonably"
The short answer to how much conservators are paid is not very informative or satisfying. They must receive what the court determines is "reasonable" compensation. As can be assumed, this creates a gray area where the definition of "reasonable" can vary greatly by the situation, location, or even the judge involved.
Professionals vs. Family Members
One of the biggest differences in how much a conservator gets paid is whether they are a family member of the conservatee or a professional conservator. Professional conservators will always receive payment, as that is their job. The same is true for public conservators.
By contrast, if a family member of the conservatee becomes the conservator, they may not be paid. In many cases, they have to file a request to the court that they receive compensation.
How Much Does A Conservator Get Paid A Year?
The national average salary for conservators is $53,634 per year or $26 per hour, according to data from ZipRecruiter. The range of salaries can be anywhere from $21,000 to $109,000. The data from Zippia is very similar, averaging $59,591 per year and $28.65 hourly. That data indicates a range of $26,000 to $134,000.
Combining that data, you can expect an average salary of about $53,000 to $59,000 and a salary range of anywhere from $21,000 to $134,000.
Conservator Pay By State
As with any other job, the average salary of a conservator varies greatly by location. The cities with the highest pay for this role (according to ZipRecruiter data) are as follows:
- Atkinson, NE — $67,887 per year, $32.64 hourly
- San Jose, CA — $64,554 per year, $31.04 hourly
- 3Frankston, TX — $64,106 per year, $30.82 hourly
- Jackson, WY — $63,838 per year, $30.69 hourly
- Diamond Ridge, AK — $63,781 per year, $30.66 hourly
- Seattle, WA — $62,383 per year, $29.99 hourly
- Barnstable Town, MA — $62,129 per year, $29.87 hourly
- Inverness, CA — $61,658 per year, $29.64 hourly
- Norwalk, CT — $61,528 per year, $299.58 hourly
- Concord, CA — $61,443 per year, $29.54 hourly
Zippia data indicates that the highest paying state is Connecticut, and the highest paying city is West Haven, CT. Other high-paid states include Rhode Island, Delaware, New York, and New Hampshire. The following gives you an idea of the average salary and hourly rate for conservators (according to Zippia) in some of the most popular states.
How Much Does A Conservator Get Paid In California?
The average salary is $71,582 in California or $34.41 per hour.
How Much Does A Conservator Get Paid In Michigan?
In Michigan, conservators earn an average salary of $63,216 per year or $30.39 an hour.
How Much Does A Conservator Get Paid In Tennessee?
The average salary for a conservator in Tennessee is $53,569. This translates into an hourly wage of $25.75.
Do Conservators Have To Financially Support The Conservatee?
Importantly, the role of a conservator is to support the conservatee. This means that they manage the conservatee's assets and are responsible for making other decisions. However, they do not financially support the conservatee. Simply put, the conservator uses the conservatee's funds to support the conservatee. They simply manage them.
While conservators don't have to financially support conservatees, they are expected to look for all of the benefits and coverage that the conservatee would be eligible for. This includes:
- Social security
- Veterans Administration benefits
- Medical insurance
- Disability benefits
- Supplemental Security Income
- Public assistance
- Retirement benefits
Of course, just because conservators don't have to financially support conservatees doesn't mean they never do. It is still common for family members who serve as conservators to occasionally use their own funds to help the conservatee.
A Closer Look At Conservatorships And The Role Of Conservators
With all of that information about the financial aspects of conservatorships in mind, take a closer look at the responsibilities of conservators and what happens in a conservatorship.
Who Needs A Conservatorship?
A conservatorship may become necessary if an adult cannot adequately care for themselves in terms of their finances and/or daily lives. This, commonly, is because of either a physical or cognitive disability, such as Alzheimer's disease.
What Responsibilities Does A Conservator Have?
Overall, conservators are responsible for handling the aspects of the conservatee's life that the adult cannot do themselves. This includes finances and well-being.
All Decisions Must Be In The Conservatee's Best Interests
One of the most important rules of a conservatorship is that every decision that the conservator makes must be in the best interests of the conservatee. This is because conservators are fiduciaries, a category that also includes trustees, powers of attorney, administrators, and executors.
A classic example of this is that conservators can't use the financial assets of a conservatee for their own gain. For example, assume a conservatee has to enter assisted living but owns a home. The conservator couldn't just move into the conservatee's now-empty home and live rent-free. They could, however, get approval to sell the home to pay for the health care of the conservatee.
The Best Way To Think Of The Responsibilities
One common way of explaining the responsibilities of a conservator is to consider what parents have to do for their children BUT exclude any financial responsibility. So, conservators are responsible for ensuring conservatees remain fed, clothed, sheltered, have access to medical care, etc. But the conservatee pays for all these things with their own assets, which the conservator manages for them.
The Responsibilities Can Vary
Importantly, the exact responsibilities of the conservator can vary. It will depend on how the conservatorship is set up and the needs of the conservatee. Some conservators oversee both finances and the physical well-being of the conservatee, while others only oversee one of these. You may hear these called "conservator of the estate" and "conservator of the person," respectively.
For example, in a limited conservatorship, the conservator would only step in for major decisions. Meanwhile, the conservatee would make most decisions with the goal of living as independently as possible.
Alternatives to Conservatorships
There are some situations when a conservatorship won't be necessary. One example is if the person is no longer able to care for themselves as planned. This would have involved signing powers of attorney for both health care and finances when they were in better condition. In that situation, the person named in the powers of attorney would have very similar roles to that of a conservator in a conservatorship.
In fact, appointing powers of attorney before a health crisis is the absolute best way to avoid the need for a conservatorship.
Pros And Cons Of Conservatorships
When figuring out if a conservatorship is right for your loved one, you'll want to consider the following pros and cons. Remember that in some cases, it may be the only appropriate option.
Pro: Court Supervision
Conservatorships are designed to protect the conservatees. This includes the requirement for court supervision. Most courts require regular reports from conservators as a way to ensure they aren't taking advantage of the conservatees. Conservators also typically have to get permission from the court before major decisions, such as terminating life-support or selling real estate.
Pro/Con: Required Bonds
For additional protection, conservators frequently need to post bonds. These are designed to protect the conservatee's assets from mishandling. But the conservatee's assets typically pay for the bond, adding an unnecessary expense in some situations.
Con: Expensive And Time-Consuming
Most conservatorships are very expensive as well as time-consuming. The paperwork can require a great deal of organization and updates. Overall, the process also requires help from a lawyer and court hearings.
Con: Public Records
The documents and court proceedings are in the public record. Those who prioritize privacy and independence may not like this.
Con: Risk Of Poor Choices
There is also always the risk of poor decisions by the conservator or the potential for abuse. This is mitigated by court supervision, but many states don't have enough resources to properly oversee all conservatorships.
Legally, conservators must receive "reasonable" compensation. Not all family members who serve as conservators are compensated. Professional and public conservators, however, earn an average salary of about $53,000 to $59,000.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.