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August 9, 1999: Conservatorship; Grandparent Visitation

Q: I know that I am fading and that mentally I have good days and bad days. Is it possible to have a conservatorship and/or guardianship set up through the Courts even though I know I can still take care of my things?

A: In Colorado, the Courts do set up these kinds of guardianships and/or conservatorships, as long as the person is agreeable.

There are many reasons why people elect to go this way. Some are afraid that on a "bad" day, they may revoke the power of attorney and then cause harm or damage by subsequently making poor decisions.

Others seek the security that there is an anchor if third parties try to ingratiate themselves with less than honorable intentions.

Finally, the court appointed position gives the holder more "clout" since in the eyes of third parties a conservator or guardian conveys the aura of power more so than maybe just an agent.

But the strength and continuity of these more formal arrangements are offset by the cost of setting up and maintaining the guardianship and/or conservatorship, as well as the Court mandated requirements such and inventories, accountings, and reports.

Also, bear in mind that it is much more costly and difficult to disassemble these arrangements than with something like a power of attorney. So as in marriage, think carefully before you embark down this legal road.

Q: Our son is getting a divorce and I am sure our soon-to-be ex-daughter- in-law will restrict our access to our grandchildren. Is there such a thing as grandparent visitation?

A: Writing in general, Courts are becoming more and more sympathetic to concerns such as yours. Many Courts will not grant additional time to grandparents, feeling that the time awarded to your son would give you sufficient access. But if you feel strongly that you may not be able to see your grandchildren (for example, you are having problems with your son too, or limited or no time was awarded your son, or maybe your son died), then vigorously pursue the issue.

I checked with several Colorado attorneys to get a feel for Colorado's position, but got mixed responses, so here it may all depend on the lawyer you use.

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