Conservatorships in California
Establishing a conservatorship in California requires the filing of formal legal proceedings. The paperwork and process is quite complicated and involves several steps. Some adults, as part of their estate planning, who are concerned about their future mental and physical incapacity, may create a power of attorney or a living trust, to avoid the necessity of a conservatorship should they become incapacitated. In the power of attorney, they are able to choose who they want to make decisions for them if they become impaired and cannot make the decisions themselves. In order to sign a power of attorney and appoint an agent should they become mentally ill, the person must have their full mental capacity. A power of attorney cannot be signed by someone who is mentally impaired. If an individual has not made prior arrangements through a power of attorney or a living trust, or if the person handling the power of attorney or trust is incapable to act or dishonest, a court conservatorship may become necessary.
If the court orders a conservatorship, it can be:
- Of the person;
- Of the person’s estate (their property); or
- Both the person and the person’s estate
A conservator of the PERSON is responsible for making sure that the conservatee has proper food, clothing, shelter and health care. The conservatee may live with the conservator or elsewhere.
A conservator of the ESTATE is necessary if the conservatee has substantial assets and income and cannot manage them alone or, if the conservatee is susceptible to being taken advantage of financially by others. Depending on your situation, you may need a conservatorship of the person, the estate, or both.
- Be treated with understanding and respect;
- Have their wishes considered; and
- Be well cared for by the conservator.
In general, conservatees keep the right to:
- Control their own salary;
- Make or change their will;
- Get married;
- Get mail;
- Have a lawyer;
- Ask a judge to change conservators;
- Ask a judge to end the conservatorship;
- Vote, unless a judge says they’re not able to;
- Control personal spending money if a judge says they can have an allowance; and
- Make their own healthcare decisions, unless a judge gives that right to a conservator.
A California conservatorship must be formally established and ended by a court. After documents have been filed with the court then a court investigator conducts an investigation, a hearing date is set and a judge decides whether or not to appoint a conservator. During the conservatorship, a conservator must periodically give the court information about the assets in the estate and how they are being handled. A clear description of a conservator’s responsibilities and duties are outlined in the Conservatorship Handbook published by the Judicial Council of California.
Filing Your Proceeding Using our Self-help Services
In view of the voluminous paperwork required by the court, preparing all of the necessary conservatorship documentation can be extremely overwhelming for the average lay person. For routine proceedings, this process can easily be facilitated with our full-service document preparation and processing.