Click Link to Jump to a topic
Protect those who can’t care for themselves
A conservatorship is a court case in which a judge appoints a responsible party (called the “conservator”) to care for someone 18 years of age or older (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances. Conservatorships are established for impaired adults, most often older people. Adults who are developmentally disabled or the victims of a catastrophic illness or accident also may have a conservatorship.
Understanding the Types of Conservatorships
There are different types of Conservatorships:
- Conservatorship of the Person;
- Conservatorship of the Estate;
- Limited Conservatorships;
- LPS (Lanterman-Petris-Short Conservatorships (which are for gravely disabled individuals).
The Most Common Conservatorships
Conservatorship of an Estate
A Conservatorship of an Estate may occur when someone is capable of taking care of their daily needs, such as meal preparation, driving, cleaning, etc., but they are not able to manage their finances. We often see this as people get older. Some people may have recently lost the spouse who managed the marital finances and cannot manage their money, sometimes someone has attempted to take financial advantage of an elderly or developmentally disabled person. Such a Conservatorship is limited to finances.
Conservatorship of the Person
A Conservatorship of the Person may be necessary when someone can still manage their finances but can no longer manage their daily needs, such as doctor’s visits, administering medications, cleaning or dressing themselves, etc.
The above two types of conservatorships are often combined when people can no longer provide for their daily needs AND their finances.
Limited Conservatorships are conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities (Limited Conservatee). Because Limited Conservatees are often independent and have a few, specific needs, a Limited Conservator’s powers are limited, and can:
- Decide where the Limited Conservatee may live;
- Sign some contracts for the Limited Conservatee (auto, apartment, etc.);
- Give or withhold consent for some medical treatment;
- Make decisions about the Limited Conservatee’s education or vocational training.
- There are other powers that a Limited Conservator MAY have, but only if the Court is informed, such as placing the Limited Conservatee in a state hospital for the developmentally disabled, or giving or withholding consent to the Limited Conservatee’s marriage.
An LPS Conservatorship is for the benefit of seriously mentally ill adults. Typically, this type of Conservatorship is established only when placement in a locked facility and drugs are necessary to control behavior. The County Public Guardian initiates the petition to establish an LPS Conservatorship.
The Court will not establish an LPS Conservatorship unless it determines that the adult is severely mentally disabled, meaning that he or she cannot take care of his/her basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter, or poses a danger to him/herself or others.
Those with Special Needs…
Advocas Law Group is also able to assist in estate planning and the creation of Special Needs Trusts for persons with developmental disabilities.
How to Set Up a Conservatorship
We Make it Easy
Advocas Law Group attorneys can help you in determining when a Conservatorship is necessary, guide you through the Conservatorship process, help you after a Conservatorship is established, and help end the Conservatorship when it is no longer necessary.
Conservatorships require careful management of the conservatee’s funds and a bond will be ordered as insurance to protect the conservatee’s assets, such as real property, bank accounts and securities, such as stocks and bonds. Due to the vulnerability of the conservatee, Courts carefully monitor the Conservatorship. The Court will also require that the conservatee has an attorney to act in the conservatee’s best interest, and a court investigator will be assigned to the case, which will provide reports and updates to the Court as needed.
The Court also regularly monitors the finances and property of the conservatee as well as his or her health, living conditions, and general welfare. Thus, regular accountings are required and reviewed by the Court at regular intervals. Those accountings must be compliant with the Probate Code and the local rules of the County in which the Superior Court sits.
Establishing a conservatorship is an involved legal proceeding and involves several steps. Often, the need for a Conservatorship is foreseeable. This is called a “General Conservatorship.” Conservatorships can also be granted on a temporary or emergency basis. For example, in one of our cases, a vulnerable dementia sufferer was removed from her live-in facility in another state and brought to California without the knowledge of any other family member. In another example, on an emergency basis, Advocas Law Group prevented a mentally-ill retiree from being taken out of the country by a family member to another country, where she had real property.
Contact us today to learn more.
Help Care for a child
Guardianships are similar to conservatorships, except they are for minors (under the age of 18).
A Guardianship is established in the Probate Court for the estate and/or person of a minor. Guardianships are established for a host of reasons: disability, death of the minor’s parents, or because the minor is expected to receive money for some reason, such as an insurance settlement, life insurance benefits, or through an inheritance. Guardianships may also be sought because of incarcerated parents.
Guardianships are necessary because someone needs to be responsible for a minor’s school enrollment, doctor’s visits, determining where the minor will reside, etc.
Guardianships are subject to the same court oversight as conservatorships. If the minor’s estate is expected to receive money, all funds must be accounted for and protected. If a considerable amount of money is expected to flow to the minor’s estate, the Court may expect that the money will be managed in such a way as to increase by the time the minor takes possession of the funds.
Filing for a Guardianship depends on the circumstances. If there is an imminent need of protection or services, a Temporary Guardianship may be sought. If there is no emergency, then a General Guardianship can be filed, which requires giving notice to family members, a court investigator and other parties.
Advocas Law Group can help you decide if a guardianship is appropriate, and how best to help and protect vulnerable minors.
Contact us today to learn more.