A probate conservatorship (kuhn-SIR-vuh-tor-ship) is a procedure in which an individual called the conservator is appointed by a court to manage the financial and personal affairs of another person who is called the conservatee (kuhn-sir-vuh-TEE). A conservatorship may be needed for people who can’t manage their own affairs and have no other viable way to assign these duties. Conservators make decisions about finances, medicine, food, clothing, housing, and other personal matters. Conservators must seek court supervision for major financial transactions and may not involuntarily place conservatees in mental institutions. A relative, friend, or public official may petition for court appointment of a conservator. A court investigator will then interview the proposed conservatee and recommend to the court whether the appointment is justified. A judge makes the final decision. Because a conservatorship is court-supervised, the costs of establishing it may be substantial, and all proceedings and records, including conservatees’ assets, are public. When deciding on conservatorship, keeping mind that the conservator must return to court for approval of certain major transactions such as borrowing money. These formal court hearings require additional attorney's fees and can create delays in completing these transactions. On the other hand, court supervision offers a higher degree of protection to the conservatee than other management mechanisms and provides a method of assisting an incapacitated individual who may be unwilling to accept such assistance. There are alternatives to a conservatorship, including revocable living trusts, durable power of attorney, joint tenancy, spousal management of a community property, and use of a substitute payee for incapacitated people who receive only government benefits.