Conservatorships: Muhammad Ali Showed Us That Even the Greatest Need Someone to Lean on

As the nation continues to mourn the passing of a great boxer, statesman, civil rights advocate, promoter, family man, and the list goes on and on, Muhammad Ali reminds us all—both in life and death—that even the greatest sometimes fall.

And if and when we do fall, it is comforting to know that there are options to help ease the burden of many of life’s obligations and responsibilities that can be legally passed to our loved ones.


A conservatorship is the process of asking the Probate Court to appoint an individual to take care of another’s personal and financial affairs. Typically, this is done where an adult family member has fallen ill and can no longer assume their own responsibilities with ease.

When Muhammad Ali was stricken with Parkinson’s disease, his fourth wife, Lonnie Ali, assumed care-taking duties and control over his affairs.

There are reports that some of Muhammad Ali’s children began to question her motives or ability to care for Muhammad Ali, and considered bringing an action for conservatorship in Probate Court.

Conservatorships are not just for purposes of elder care. Conservators can be appointed for anyone even young adults (18 years of age or older) suffering with substance abuse, mental illness, or other issues affecting one’s ability to care for their own basic needs. This is sometimes referred to as a “conservator for the person.”

A “conservator of the estate” is another type of conservatorship where the Probate Court appoints someone or an entity to supervise another’s financial affairs if the court is sufficiently convinced that that the subject of the conservatorship is essentially wasting financial resources and acting against their own best interests. It is not uncommon for a someone to serve both as a conservator or the person and the estate.

Other Legal Options to Care for Loved Ones

Conservatorships can be accomplished both voluntarily and even involuntarily when needed. Conservatorships are an attractive option when someone already has power of attorney over your loved one and you suspect abuse, coercion, or misappropriation of funds.

Conservatorship will null and void any previously executed power of attorney. In the case of Muhammad Ali, where Ali’s children alleged that his wife was abusing her power of attorney, a conservatorship action could have been brought in Probate Court.

If Ali’s children could have convinced the Probate Court that Muhammad Ali’s affairs were not being managed adequately, they could have stripped away Lonnie Ali’s power of attorney, but such an action was never brought.

However, when a loved one is relinquishing certain rights voluntarily, there may be other less expensive options that may accomplish the same thing.

Power of Attorney

One such option is a power of attorney. A durable power of attorney gives ‘broad and sweeping’ power for one to act on behalf of another. Essentially, a POA gives authority to another to make all decisions affecting one’s financial and legal rights. However, when giving away power of attorney, your loved one may limit those rights related to all or some of the following:

  • Real estate transactions;
  • Personal property;
  • Investment transactions;
  • Banking transactions;
  • Business operating transactions;
  • Insurance transactions;
  • Estate transactions;
  • Claims and litigation;
  • Personal relationships and affairs;
  • Military service benefits;
  • Records, reports and statements;

Health Care Directive

A Health Care Directive allows another to make all decisions regarding treatment and to act on behalf of your loved one for medical decisions and communicate their wishes by proxy. A health care directive can also allow another access to you medical records and any health information in order to comply with HIPAA laws.

Contact the Law Offices of Charles Kurmay if You Need Help Appointing a Conservator or Probate Lawyer for Any Matter in Connecticut or New York.

At the Law Offices of Charles Kurmay, our skilled and experienced attorneys routinely assist clients in probate matters, which range from regular estate administration to very complex probate litigation. We regularly litigate in the Probate and Superior Courts in Connecticut and in New York as well. We help clients plan their estates, drafting wills and trusts while helping with tax and Medicaid planning to protect the wealth hard working people have earned over the course of their lives and to help prevent the disaster that we are discussing here.

With offices located in Milford, New York City, Norwalk, and León Spain, we truly are a local firm with a global reach.

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If this or anything similar has happened to you, please call us at (203) 380-1743. We are available to talk anytime.