Conservators play a critical role in our society. They help many elderly, infirm, and disabled people live fulfilling and rich lives, caring for their physical, emotional, and financial needs. If you need to file for conservatorship in Alpine County, CA, you’ve come to the right place. This article walks you through the basics of how to file for conservatorship in Alpine County, CA as well as what to do if you need to fight a conservatorship in California.

…or continue reading the article below to learn more about conservatorships and specifically, how to file for conservatorship in Alpine County.

What’s an Alpine County Conservatorship?

Conservatorships in Alpine, CA, and in California in general, come into play when an adult is unable to care for themselves or make important financial decisions. There are many reasons dependent adults may need help; chronic sickness, mental illness, or developmental difficulties are just a few situations that can render a person incapacitated.

The term “conservatorship” refers to the placement of dependent adults in the care of another person. It aims to assist people in managing their lives. Depending on the type of conservatorship, this can include finances, daily care, medical decisions, intensive treatment, and more.

The county court has exclusive authority to appoint a conservator. A conservatorship may come to an end when the person who is being looked after dies or regains their independence.

One important point to remember: in California, conservatorship only applies to adults. If a child requires such care and has no one to look after them, they can receive help from a guardian. If you need more resources on guardianship, check out our article on guardianships in California.

Probate Conservatorships

There are two variations of conservatorships in California, and the severity of the conservatee’s handicap determines how these conservatorships are classified. The basic kind of conservatorship is called probate conservatorship. This type of conservatorship is for a conservatee who, due to old age or infirmity, is unable to care for themselves or handle their own affairs. Infirmity can mean anything from ongoing illness to substance abuse that requires a temporarily locked facility.

Within probate conservatorship, there are two types of conservatorship for conservatees who made need help in different areas of their lives. There are conservatorships of the individual (housing, medical choices, and so on) and conservatorships of the estate (financial decisions).

Finally, the duration of the conservatorship can vary. The court may appoint a temporary conservator to care for the conservatee’s immediate needs while a more permanent conservatorship request is being processed.

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships

This sort of conservatorship also called a “mental health conservatorship,” is unusual. The LPS Act was developed in 1969 by legislators Lanterman, Petris, and Short. The statute specifies that an LPS conservatorship arrangement is for someone in a psychiatric or mental health facility who is suffering from a serious and particular kind of mental condition.

The court in this instance selects an adult to watch over the conservatee’s care and medical treatment without infringing on their civil rights. Conservatees in this type of conservatorship have little understanding of their situation and are often noncompliant with medication. That is why the LPS allows for the involuntary treatment of mental illness in a secure setting.

If you’re simply looking to help an ailing loved one who doesn’t require a locked facility or intensive treatment, a probate conservatorship is probably what you’re looking for. However, we have plenty of online resources, including an article specifically concerning LPS conservatorships, if that’s what you need. You can also contact Alpine County mental health services.

County’s Conservator Selection and Appointment

The laws in California specify who has priority for the conservator position. Conservatorship appointments are often filled by the conservatee’s spouse or domestic partner. The judge may also appoint a staff person, such as a public or professional conservator, from the council district if no one close to the conservatee fits the qualifications.

To initiate conservatorship, the court appoints a conservator to manage the conservatee’s personal and financial affairs (incapacitated individual). During this process, the potential conservatee or an interested party like a relative may choose to contest the appointment. We will review that possibility later in this article.

How to File for Conservatorship in Alpine County, CA

How to File for Conservatorship in Alpine County, CA

To file for conservatorship, you need to follow these basic steps.

1. File Your Legal Forms

First, you have to prepare and file a number of legal forms with the Superior Court of Alpine County (click the link for online resources from the court). These forms essentially show the court why conservatorship is essential and why no other options are feasible. If you’re the person filing, know that you need to file these forms with the notary and pay the applicable fee.

Alpine County Courthouse Information:

P.O. Box 518

14777 State Route 89

Markleeville, CA  96120

Phone: (530) 694-2113

Fax: (530) 694-2119

Parking Information

If you are filing during an outbreak, be sure to check the latest COVID-19 information on the court’s self-help center for hours and filing instructions.

2. Inform Interested Parties

You have to inform the proposed conservatee and their relatives that you’re filing to get a conservatorship. You must provide a copy of the application to the suggested conservatee and mail a duplicate to their spouse or various other relatives. You must provide future hearing dates by mailing a notice of the hearing as well.

This is where the conservatee or a relative or spouse can contest the conservatorship. While this can seem like a hassle, it keeps everyone on the same page and helps prevent instances of elder abuse.

3. Undergo Investigation 

During this step, a private investigator completes an investigation to assess the suggested conservatee’s condition. The investigator offers neutral information to the judge concerning the case.

To do this, you need to pay a private investigator’s fee. This can usually come out of the proposed conservatee’s estate unless the estate is not large enough to support this.

4. Receive Conservatorship Status

After the hearing, the court gives or denies the petition for conservatorship. If approved, the conservator you’ll have to provide ongoing records and meet with the court investigator as the court orders. The investigator can make periodic checks to make sure everything is going well and the conservatee is receiving physical and mental health treatment as needed.

Who Can Contest Conservatorship?

How to File for Conservatorship in Alpine County, CA

So, who can throw a wrench in this process by contesting the conservatorship? The truth is that many interested parties have the legal right to challenge your bid for conservatorship. This might be anyone from an adult child or a close family member to the conservatee’s estate’s chosen beneficiaries.

The conservatee has the ability to act as well. They can contest the conservatorship if they believe it was imposed against their will or if they believe the proposed conservator isn’t qualified for the job.

Either the conservatee or another party can contest the conservatorship petition as soon as you file it. It is, however, also possible that an opposing party could challenge conservatorship in its later stages.

Reasons for Contesting a Conservator Appointment

If you are seeking an appointment as a conservator, learning about possible contestations may come in handy. We’ll use Greg, a hypothetical elderly adult, in the following two scenarios.

1. Disagreement

Let’s pretend Greg has two adult children, Jeremy and Vanessa. Greg’s conservator, Jeremy, wants to sell Greg’s home and place him in a care facility. Vanessa, on the other hand, believes that keeping the house and taking on the burden of providing home-based care is a preferable option. A schism between the siblings could lead to Vanessa filing a conservatorship petition.

2. Conservatee Autonomy

Even if Jeremy disagrees, Vanessa or Greg may challenge a conservatorship if Greg regained a significant level of independence. Let’s say Greg was in an accident but has since recovered and is able to make personal and medical decisions.

In this case, Greg could go to court and explain why they want the conservatorship to be terminated. Greg must demonstrate that he is capable of both mental and physical self-care to succeed. Many infirm adults don’t want to admit they need help, which can make judging cases like this difficult.

Reasons for Contesting an Existing Conservatorship in Alpine County

How to File for Conservatorship in Alpine County, CA

You may think once you have the conservatorship position that you’re good to go, but that’s not the case. The conservatee or others in their circle can still contest your position. Here are two of the most common scenarios using Greg as an ongoing example.

Abuse of Limited Conservatorship

Let’s pretend Greg has a damaged leg but is otherwise healthy and capable of making lucid decisions. Greg’s conservatorship is limited, and Jeremy is only supposed to assist him with a few activities. The conservatee’s personal autonomy and independence should not be violated by a limited conservator, but Vanessa begins to suspect Jeremy is attempting to make financial decisions for Greg.

When it’s shown that the conservator, limited or otherwise, has abused their power, a conservatee or other interested party can start the procedure. Vanessa can challenge the conservatorship if he finds Jeremy attempting to exert too much authority. Jeremy can also protect himself by keeping careful records and adhering strictly to the terms of the conservatorship.

Conservatorship Neglect or Abuse

As a conservator, Jeremy has to make sure his father lives a meaningful life with excellent medical care. If Vanessa thinks Jeremy does not behave in Greg’s best interests and his actions do not reflect this type of legal agreement, she may try to intervene.

Jeremy could be accused of:

  • Stealing or misappropriating funds from Greg’s estate
  • Inflating the number of expenses incurred
  • Participating in self-serving activities
  • Engaging in actual elder abuse (physical, verbal, or emotional)

As in the first scenario, Jeremy’s best defense here is transparency. He can keep careful records and check in with the court investigator. He can also make sure Greg regularly sees others, including Vanessa, and feels comfortable with the arrangement. In various cases, Adult Protective Services or even the police may need to step in.

Need Assistance with a Conservatorship in Alpine County?

How to File for Conservatorship in Alpine County, CA

We hope you’ve learned something about filing for conservatorship in the county of Alpine. The filing process necessitates thorough research and knowledge of California law. If you’d rather avoid a conservatorship lawyer, you can use a self-help center or online services for legal document preparation like A People’s Choice.

A People’s Choice is here to help you navigate filing for conservatorship. With our legal document assistance service, you can handle the entire procedure more efficiently and successfully without having to hire an expensive lawyer. We also serve surrounding areas, including San Bernardino, Santa Rosa, Santa Clara, Santa Ana, San Joaquin, Yuba County, Amador County, Tulare County, Inyo County, Tehama County, and much more. Contact staff who can help online or call us at 800-747-2780 to get started today!