Understanding Conservatorships

November 7, 2018

Elderly man and woman sitting on a bench.

Law Firm For California Conservatorships

If you have an aging loved one who is either unable to make important decisions for themselves or will likely become unable to in the near future, a conservatorship may be a good option. Understanding what a conservatorship is and how they are used will help you not only determine if one is appropriate in your situation, but if it is, who should become the conservator. The following is an introduction to conservatorships. If you have any questions about your specific case, please contact us to get the legal help you need.

Types of Conservatorships

There are two types of conservatorships that can be in place. The first is a conservator of the person and the second is a conservator of the estate. The conservator of the person will handle all medical and personal decisions including things like where the person will live, what medical procedures they will have done, and much more. The conservator of the estate will make all financial decisions. In some cases, both types of conservatorships can be the same person.

When a Conservatorship is Needed

Establishing a conservatorship is often needed when a loved one has become unable to make important decisions on their own. There are, however, legal instruments that can be set up ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of having a conservatorship. For example, your loved one can set up a legal Power of Attorney to grant someone the right to make financial decisions on their behalf. A medical Power of Attorney, or even an Advance Health Care Directive, can accomplish most of what a conservator of the person is used for.

If the individual hasn’t set these instruments up before they have become unable to make decisions on their own, or these options don’t cover the situation properly, it will be necessary to establish a conservatorship. It is possible to establish only one type of conservatorship if that is all that is needed.

Petitioning for a Conservatorship

In order to establish either type of conservatorship, one must petition the courts to approve this request. If your loved one is suffering from a degenerative condition that will eventually leave them unable to make decisions, it is best to work quickly so they can decide who will be appointed conservator (or establish Power of Attorney). If it is already beyond that point, the courts will have to approve the petition for conservatorship.

When going through this process, it is best to try to decide who will act as each type of conservator before petitioning the court. Acting as a conservator is often a lot of work and comes with a lot of responsibility, so make sure the person chosen will be up to the task. It is also important to note that conservators have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the person they are caring for.

At Lawvex, we understand conservatorships and are happy to sit down with you and explain everything involved. If you think this is the best option for you, or you want to discuss other possible options, contact us today.

Conservatorship FAQs

A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in California where a person (the conservator) is appointed by the court to manage the personal care or financial affairs, or both, of another person (the conservatee) who is unable to manage these matters themselves due to physical or mental limitations.

Establishing a conservatorship requires filing a petition in the local Superior Court, notifying interested parties, attending a court hearing, and the judge’s decision. It’s a complex process, and legal guidance is usually advised.

Yes, a conservatorship can be contested. The conservatee, relatives, or any interested party can challenge the need for a conservatorship or the choice of conservator. A conservatorship can be terminated if the conservatee regains capacity or upon their death.

Both allow someone to act on behalf of another person. A power of attorney is a voluntary arrangement, typically created in anticipation of potential incapacity, while a conservatorship is court-ordered and established when someone is already incapable of managing personal affairs or finances.