A conservatorship is a legal arrangement that allows a responsible adult to manage the personal care or financial matters of an impaired adult person. Under a conservatorship arrangement, the individual who is unable to care for himself is known as the conservatee. Additionally, the family member, friend, or business entity who cares for the conservatee is called the conservator, as outlined in California Probate Code. Please note that a conservatorship in California must be established through a court proceeding. However, to simplify the process, we’ve created a short guide outlining how to obtain conservatorship in California.
Types of Conservatorships
There are two types of conservatorships in California: limited conservatorship and general conservatorship. In a limited conservatorship, the conservatee is deemed mentally impaired. Furthermore, the conservator’s powers are limited to the area in which the conservatee may not be able to manage on his or her own. Usually, the court encourages limited conservatorships because they allow conservatees to maintain as much independence as possible.
On the other hand, a general conservatorship provides a higher level of care to the conservatee. This type of conservatorship is best for a person who is unable to fully provide personal care for themselves or make financial decisions.
To demonstrate, a limited conservatorship is typically filed when a conservatee is able to manage some areas of their life, but not all. More specifically, with a limited conservatorship the conservatee’s duties are strictly limited to certain areas the conservatee can’t manage themselves. For example, the conservatee may have a mental condition that prevents them from handling their finances, but may be able to take care of their own physical needs (dressing, eating, etc). In this situation, a limited conservatorship would be proper. On the other hand, a general conservatorship allows for more comprehensive care of the conservatee. This type of conservatorship allows the conservator to provide for most, if not all, of the conservatee’s personal care and financial needs.
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How to Obtain Conservatorship in California
1. File a Petition for Conservatorship
One of the first steps of obtaining conservatorship in California is completing and filing a petition for conservatorship. These petition documents are quite cumbersome and can be extremely confusing without professional help. For example, the documents cover information about the proposed conservator, conservatee, the conservatee’s immediate relatives, and the reasons for conservatorship. Additionally, the petition must also explain why there are no possible alternatives to a conservatorship. Ultimately, the petition must be filed with the local court in which the proposed conservatee resides. For help with every part of the petition process, from filling to filing the forms, contact A People’s Choice.
2. Serve the Notice of Petition
Once the petition is filed, the court clerk will schedule a court date. At this point, a neutral adult must serve the proposed conservatee notice of the petition for conservatorship. Additionally, they must also serve the relatives of the proposed conservatee. Furthermore, at this time, a court appointed investigator will speak to the proposed conservatee and others to collect more information about the conservatee’s condition.
3. Attend a Court Hearing
Next, the proposed conservatee must attend the court hearing unless they do not have the capacity to do so. During the hearing, the judge will determine if all family members were properly notified. Additionally, the judge may appoint a lawyer to represent the proposed conservatee. Ultimately, the judge may grant or deny the conservatorship.
4. Learn Your New Role
Finally, as long as the judge grants conservatorship, the court will file an order appointing the conservator and issue letters of conservatorship. Be sure to review the Handbook for Conservators for more information about your new role. However, as soon as the court issues letters, you may now assume the powers authorized per the court order.
If you’re looking to become a conservator for a family member or friend and need assistance with your legal documents, contact A People’s Choice. We can help you fill and file paperwork and also provide more information about how to obtain conservatorship in California.
What Does it Mean to be Conservator for a Person?
First, a conservator has many duties. If you are acting as the conservator of a person, these duties might include:
- Arranging for the conservatee’s meals, health care, clothing, housekeeping, transportation, and over-all well-being.
- Deciding where the conservatee will live and the type of recreation he/she will engage in.
Secondly, if you are acting as the conservator of a person’s estate, the duties are different. For example, a person who is the conservator of an estate has duties involving the finances of the conservatee. For example, these duties would include managing the conservatee’s finances, collecting the conservatee’s income, paying the conservatee’s bills, maintaining accurate financial records, and filing regular financial reports with the court.
Documents Needed to File Conservatorship in California
As mentioned above, the court requires many documents to file a California conservatorship. This is often the reason people hire the help of A People’s Choice. If you do want to try to file a conservatorship without any professional help, you should contact your local court. They will let you know which forms you may need to file for conservatorship in your county. It is important to realize, although most courts use the same conservatorship forms, other local forms are often needed. There are many steps to obtain a California conservatorship. In general, you need the following forms to start a California conservatorship petition:
- Petition for Appointment of Probate Conservator GC-310
- Notice of Hearing-Guardianship or Conservatorship GC-020
- Attachment to Notice of Hearing Proof of Service by Mail GC-020 (MA)
- Pre-Move Notice of Proposed Change of Personal Residence GC-079
- Confidential Supplemental Information (Probate Conservatorship) GC-312
- Citation for Conservatorship and Proof of Service GC-320
- Duties of Conservator and Acknowledgment of Receipt of Handbook GC-348
- Confidential Conservator Screening Form (Probate Conservatorship) GC-314
- Order Appointing Probate Conservator GC-340
- Letters of Conservatorship GC-350
- Capacity Declaration-Conservatorship GC-335
- Dementia Attachment to Capacity Declaration – Conservatorship GC-335A
- ATTACHMENT to Judicial Council Form MC-025
Contact us for help completing the conservatorship forms above. We can help you complete and file the forms with the court.
What are Alternatives to a Conservatorship?
A person can avoid a family member having to file a conservatorship through good estate planning. This includes having a valid power of attorney for financial and health related matters. With this in mind, the protected party must be of sound mind when they sign a legal document. This includes signing a power of attorney or healthcare directive. Contact A People’s Choice to learn more about alternatives to a conservatorship. We offer clients self-help materials to given them a better understanding of how to file conservatorship in California. We also can prepare all the required paperwork. Call us today at 800-747-2780.