PA 17-7—sSB 976

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CONSERVATOR ACCOUNTABILITY

SUMMARY: This act authorizes the probate court administrator, within available appropriations, to audit an account of a “conservator of the estate.” By law, a “conservator of the estate” is generally a person the probate court appoints to supervise the financial affairs of someone (1) found to be incapable of managing his or her own affairs or (2) who asks the court to make such an appointment, including temporary conservators.

The act establishes processes for the probate court, probate court administrator, and conservator related to such audits and requires the probate court administrator to pay the auditʼs cost from the Probate Court Administration Fund.

It also requires the probate court administrator, in consultation with the Connecticut Probate Assembly, to adopt standards of practice to guide all court-appointed conservators in performing their duties. The act authorizes the probate court to consider evidence of a conservatorʼs failure to adhere to these standards in determining whether the conservator has breached a fiduciary duty, but specifies that such failure does not, on its own, constitute such a breach.

The act also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2018, except the provisions that require the probate court to adopt standards of practice for court-appointed conservators is effective July 1, 2017 and compliance with and enforcement of the standards are effective July 1, 2018.

PROBATE COURTʼS AUDIT OF A CONSERVATOR OF THE ESTATE ACCOUNT

Selection of Account and Assignment of Auditor

The act allows the probate court administrator to randomly select accounts to audit or to use other criteria that he deems effective in deterring and detecting fiduciary wrongdoing. The administrator may select for audit a pending account but may not select one that has been approved by the probate court.

When the administrator selects an account for audit, he must:

1. assign an auditor from the list of qualified auditors the law requires him to maintain,

2. notify the probate court before which the account is pending,

3. continue any previously scheduled hearing on the account pending the audit outcome, and

4. provide notice of the audit and continuance to all parties by first-class mail.

Conservatorʼs Cooperation

The act requires a conservator of the estate whose account is subject to audit to cooperate with the auditor and give the auditor access to all related records. The auditor must notify the probate court, in writing, if the conservator fails to cooperate and send a copy of this notification to each party and attorney of record. The court, on its own motion or that of a party, may issue orders to compel the conservator to cooperate and remove a conservator who fails to do so.

Auditorʼs Report

An auditor must complete the audit and report the findings to the probate court within 90 days after receiving notice of the auditing assignment. The court may extend the deadline, on the auditorʼs request, if it finds that additional time is needed to complete the audit.

Hearing on the Account and Auditorʼs Report

The probate court, upon receiving the auditorʼs report, must send a copy of it and a hearing notice to all parties. The audit report must be admissible in evidence, subject to the right of an interested party to require that the auditor appear as a witness, if available, and be subject to examination.

The court must hear and decide the conservatorʼs account and determine the rights of the conservator and the parties, including relief authorized by law. By law, in any action pertaining to the appointment of an auditor to examine a fiduciaryʼs account, the probate court has all the powers available to a Superior Court judge in these matters.

Auditorsʼ Compensation

The act requires the probate court administrator to pay for an audit from the Probate Court Administration Fund, subject to the chief court administratorʼs approval. It also allows the probate court administrator to establish the auditorsʼ hourly rates and allowable expenses as he sees fit.