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Conservatorship

Southern California Conservatorship Lawyers

A Conservatorship will protect a Conservatee from being VictimizedWhen an adult cannot care for himself or herself and/or manage their own finances, a probate court can appoint another person to take protective responsibility. This creates a “court ordered Conservatorship” (also called a “Probate Conservatorship”) between the protected person (the “Conservatee”) and the responsible person (the “Conservator”). Conservatorships are a last resort, when proper estate planning did not take place and when a senior has not made plans to have someone make decisions for him or for her.

A Conservatorship is a formal, legal authorization for the Conservator (typically a spouse or domestic partner, a family member, close friend, or a hired professional) to make decisions for the benefit of the protected person (“Conservatee”). Because a Conservatorship restricts the Conservatee’s powers over their personal care and financial decisions, it is particularly useful when the protected person is mentally or physically unable to understand and accept help, or is vulnerable to predators who would take financial advantage of them.

A Conservatorship will protect a Conservatee from being Victimized

A conservatorship can prevent a vulnerable person (protected person) from marrying, contracting with, or transferring money, property or any other assets to someone else without the approval of the Conservator and in some closely supervised situations, approval of the court.

A Conservatorship is different than a Guardianship

A Conservatorship concerns an adult while a Guardianship concerns a minor. The legal processes to obtain either are very similar. Important differences do exist, however, and it is important to consult with someone who understands the process and can guide you for either.

There are two Types of Conservatorships:

  1. Probate Conservatorship
  2. LPS Conservatorship

1 – Probate Conservatorship

When someone is no longer able to handle his or her own financial and/or personal affairs, the court can appoint an individual (the “Conservator”) to act on behalf of an incapacitated person (the “Conservatee”). The judicial procedure for this appointment is referred to as a Probate Conservatorship. The establishment of a Probate Conservatorship restricts the Conservatee’s powers over financial and/or personal care decisions.

If you are contemplating becoming a Conservator to help a spouse, parent, family member or friend, you need to decide if you are going to make application for “Conservatorship of the Person,” “Conservatorship of the Estate,” or both. You must file a Conservatorship Petition for either or both. If you are a Conservator of the Person, you are responsible for seeing that the Conservatee has proper food, shelter and health care. If you are Conservator of the Estate, you are responsible for taking care of the finances of the Conservatee, including overseeing all of the Conservatee’s assets – including any real estate owned.

Example: Grady and Joan are married. Grady is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Grady’s wife, Joan, is a homemaker and Grady’s spouse of 41 years. Grady and Joan have 2 adult children: Erik and Heather who are both married, have their own families, have their own homes, and living within a few miles of their parent’s home. There are no estate planning instruments in place, so the family decides to seek a Conservatorship with the help of a lawyer. Grady’s wife, Joan, wants to petition to become a Conservator but is not good with finances and wants to limit her oversight to “Conservatorship of the Person,” while Grady’s adult son, Erik –an accountant– will petition to become a Co-Conservator fulfilling the role of “Conservatorship of the Estate.” Grady’s daughter agrees with and supports the plan, but as a new mom with two toddlers will not be participating in any way.

2 – LPS Conservatorship

LPS conservatorships are established under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act and are governed by the California Welfare and Institutions Code (NOT the Probate Code). In an LPS Conservatorship, a Conservator is appointed to represent a person who is “gravely disabled.” LPS Conservatorships are designed for persons with serious mental disorders. LPS Conservatorships are most often initiated by county and state health and welfare agencies.

Probate Courts are cautious and methodical in approving a Conservatorship Petition

Because Conservatorships convey very broad and significant powers over another person, the Probate courts are very cautious and methodical in the process of working toward approving a person’s application to become the “responsible person” or “Conservator.”

Petitioning for a Conservatorship

To become a Conservator, one must formally petition the court with a Conservatorship Petition and include detailed documentation, including confidential personal and health information about the proposed Conservatee, a “physician’s capacity declaration” of the Conservatee, confidential information about the proposed Conservator, and more.

The Court Investigator and the Court Hearing

Once your petition is filed with the Probate court, a court investigator is appointed to make a home visit and interview you and the proposed conservatee. The investigator reports his or her findings back to the court.

The court will set a hearing, where the judge determines whether or not the conservatorship is required and what types of special powers may be granted to the conservator. The Conservatee has the right to a jury trial if he or she desires one. Many seniors with early stage Dementia or Alzheimer’s will sometimes become lucid and insist that they do not want help.

Temporary Conservatorship

If the tentative, or proposed Conservator can prove to the court that an emergency exists, he or she may obtain an expedited Temporary Conservatorship. With the power of a Temporary Conservatorship, the Conservator can provide the Conservatee with immediate personal or health care maintenance or support (for a “conservatorship of the person”), or would obtain the power to protect his or her property from loss or injury (for a “Conservatorship of the Estate”). The Temporary Conservator serves for a limited time, pending the determination of the main, slower-progressing, normal petition.

Limited Conservatorship

Limited Conservatorships are available for persons who have a developmental disability and who only need help with certain, specific aspects of their lives. If the Conservator is petitioning to be a Limited Conservator, he or she will petition for the right to perform certain, specific duties. If appointed, the Limited Conservator will have the power to take care of only those aspects of the Conservatee’s life and financial affairs which will be clearly specified in the court order. The Conservatee retains all other legal and civil rights beyond and outside of the court order.

Who can Petition to become a Conservator

According to the California Probate Code Section 1820 (a), a petition for the appointment of a Conservator may be filed by any of the following:

  1. The proposed Conservatee.
  2. The spouse or domestic partner of the proposed Conservatee.
  3. A relative of the proposed Conservatee.
  4. Any interested state or local entity or agency of this state or any interested public officer or employee of this state or of a local public entity of this state.
  5. Any other interested person or friend of the proposed Conservatee.

Experienced Conservatorship Attorneys in Southern California

Contact Vincent W. Davis to have a frank discussion to determine if a Conservatorship is right for your unique circumstances, and whether you need a Conservatorship of the Person, Conservatorship of the Estate, or both. If you choose to proceed, Mr. Davis can guide you through the Conservatorship process and handle the required filings, document preparation, and accompany you to the stressful court appearances or appear in your behalf when your presence in not mandatory.

Set Up a Day, Evening or Weekend Appointment with a Conservatorship Lawyer Now

Contact The Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates in Southern California for a complimentary consultation. Consultations are available in Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire including Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. We also handle California Probate, Trust, and Estate matters for out of state individuals. Mr. Davis will personally make time to share his legal advice with you and your loved ones.

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