How to Start the Probate Process in California

Conservatorship in California is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a responsible person or organization to care for an adult who cannot care for themselves or manage their personal or financial affairs. There are various types of conservatorships in California, each designed to address specific circumstances and needs. In this article, we will explore three common types of conservatorships: standard conservatorship, LPS conservatorship, and limited conservatorship.

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There are several forms and legal steps required to for each type of conservatorship in California as outlined below. However, after reading this article, we recommend supplementing your education with the article that more specifically addresses your specific needs:

1. Standard Conservatorship

A standard conservatorship, also known as a general conservatorship, is the most common type of conservatorship in California. It is typically utilized for individuals who are unable to make decisions regarding their personal care and/or finances due to physical or mental incapacity. This type of conservatorship is often sought for aging adults suffering from conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or severe mental illness.

Key Features:

  • Conservator of the Person: In a standard conservatorship, a conservator of the person is appointed to make decisions about the conservatee’s daily life, including healthcare, housing, and personal care.
  • Conservator of the Estate: A separate conservator of the estate may also be appointed to manage the conservatee’s financial affairs, including paying bills, managing assets, and handling investments.
  • Annual Reporting: Conservators are required to provide annual accountings to the court detailing the financial transactions and care provided to the conservatee.
  • Court Oversight: The court closely monitors standard conservatorships to ensure the conservatee’s rights and well-being are protected.

2. Limited Conservatorship

Limited conservatorships are specifically designed for adults with developmental disabilities, including conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities. The goal of a limited conservatorship is to provide support and assistance while allowing the conservatee to maintain as much independence as possible.

Key Features:

  • Tailored Support: Limited conservatorships are tailored to the individual’s needs. The conservator’s authority is limited to only those areas where the conservatee needs assistance, such as managing finances or making medical decisions.
  • Emphasis on Independence: The court encourages the conservatee’s independence and self-determination, and the conservator’s role is to support and facilitate rather than control.
  • Regular Review: Limited conservatorships are subject to periodic court review to ensure that the conservatee’s rights and freedoms are protected.
  • Less Restrictive: Limited conservatorships are generally considered less restrictive than standard conservatorships, aiming to strike a balance between protection and autonomy.

3. LPS Conservatorship

LPS (Lanterman-Petris-Short) conservatorships are unique to California and are specifically designed for individuals with severe mental health disorders. These conservatorships are initiated when a person poses a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness and refuses necessary treatment.

Key Features:

  • Involuntary Detention: LPS conservatorships often involve involuntary detention in a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment.
  • Treatment and Placement Decisions: The conservator of the person in an LPS conservatorship has the authority to make decisions regarding the conservatee’s psychiatric treatment, housing, and placement in mental health facilities.
  • Regular Reevaluations: The conservatorship must be reevaluated at regular intervals to determine if continued treatment is necessary.
  • Limited Duration: LPS conservatorships are intended to be temporary, with the goal of stabilizing the conservatee’s mental health and, if possible, transitioning them to less restrictive alternatives.

How is an LPS Conservatorship Started?

Unlike a regular or limited conservatorship which can be initiated by a family member or interersted party, only designated mental health treatment facilities, agencies or the courts can make a referral to the Public Guardian for LPS. Only the Public Guardian can petition the court for the initial appointment as conservator.

Help Filing Different Types of Conservatorship

It’s important to note that conservatorship cases can be complex, and the type of conservatorship required may vary depending on individual circumstances. Legal counsel and consultation with experts in the field are often necessary to navigate the conservatorship process successfully.

In conclusion, California offers several types of conservatorships to address the diverse needs of vulnerable adults. Whether it’s a standard conservatorship, LPS conservatorship, or limited conservatorship, the primary goal is to ensure the well-being and protection of individuals who are unable to care for themselves. Legal proceedings for conservatorships should always prioritize the conservatee’s best interests and rights.

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