Conservatorship in California can be a confusing topic. To make things more complex, there are quite a few different types of conservatorships, and their definitions can vary from state to state. One of these—one that seems to invite more confusion than others—is the joint managing conservatorship.

If you think a joint managing conservatorship might be a good option for a loved one, you’ve come to the right place. This article covers common definitions, situations where a joint managing conservatorship can help, and how the application process works. By the time you are done reading this post, you will know a whole lot more about joint managing conservatorship in California.

What Is Conservatorship?

As stated in the introduction, conservatorship has different meanings in different places, even within the United States. In some states, it has to do with child custody, care, parenting, and visitation rights in the event of their parent’s separation. However, in California, conservatorship means something entirely different.

In California, a conservatorship can be defined as a legal process or proceeding in which the court appoints responsible adults or agencies to care for someone who is disabled or incapacitated. The caregiver then manages the affairs of the disabled or incapacitated person, who may be affected by old age, sickness, or disability. The responsible person or agency appointed by the court to care for this disabled person is known as a conservator, and the adult for whom conservatorship is established is called the conservatee.

For conservatorship to be established, the would-be conservator must file a request with the court. A judge then decides if the adult should be placed under a conservatorship arrangement.

The Two Main California Conservatorship Arrangements

While conservatorship arrangements in California may be of different kinds, they can be generally classified into two main types. Here’s a general rundown of the two.

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship: The Most Temporary Conservatorship Arrangement

Also called a mental health conservatorship, this conservatorship arrangement is designed for any adult individual who is mentally ill or gravely disabled due to a mental disorder like schizophrenia, clinical depression, schizoaffective disorder, and the like.

LPS conservatorships are designed to last for just one year. If the conservatee doesn’t show any sign of improvement, the conservatorship may be reestablished and the conservator reappointed. Usually, an LPS conservatee needs to be cared for in a restrictive environment. This is so they don’t pose a danger to themselves and others while getting necessary mental treatment.

This type of conservatorship can only be started by a conservatorship proceeding. The public guardian of the local government agency of the county in which the adult in question resides must take this step, with medical record documents to back up their request. The conservatee, in this case, doesn’t have the mental capacity to give consent for the arrangement.

Probate Conservatorship: For Longer-Term Cases

This type of conservatorship arrangement is the most common type of conservatorship in the state of California.  If you’re concerned for an elderly loved one, such as an aging parent, this is the most popular option pursued by adult children.

The provisions of this type of conservatorship are based on the probate laws of the state. The term “probate” has to do with assets and estates normally handled after death. A probate conservatorship, on the other hand, is the appointment of a conservator to care for an individual and manage the individual’s assets and finances. This only happens if the individual is not capable of taking care of himself or herself.

General Probate Conservatorships vs. Limited Probate Conservatorship

Probate conservatorship can take two forms—general conservatorship and limited conservatorship. The former is the conservatorship of the elderly or younger adults who can’t take care of themselves due to old age or serious impairment. The latter has to do with the conservatorship of adults with developmental disabilities; such people may need partial help with life tasks rather than fully-fledged care.

Limited probate conservatees only need partial help. This differentiates them from the conservatees in general conservatorship, who may lack all ability to care for themselves and fall into the category of a completely incapacitated adult.

Conservator of the Person vs. Conservator of the Estate

There is yet one more division within probate conservatorships in California. In probate conservatorships, there are two types of conservators with different roles: a conservator of the person and a conservator of the estate. The former care for the conservatee in terms of welfare, healthcare decisions, shelter, and other personal affairs and legal rights. The other handles the conservatee’s financial affairs such as bill payment and management of their financial assets. It is possible to take on both roles within either type of probate conservatorship.

What Is a Joint Managing Conservatorship in California?

You may have noticed the absence of the term “joint managing conservatorship” in the above section. This is because, as pointed out earlier in this article, the concept of conservatorship can mean different things in different places. This also applies to joint managing conservatorship.

Does Joint Managing Conservatorships Exist in California?

In some US states, “joint managing conservatorship” can imply that two people, usually a parent and another responsible adult in the child’s life, have the parental right to legal custody and responsibility for the child’s upbringing. In other words, it has to do with legal custody plans for child welfare. However, this term means another thing entirely in California.

Joint managing conservatorship in California, also called joint conservatorship or co-conservatorship, implies the opposite of a sole managing conservatorship. it refers to when two conservators (such as two adult children of an ailing parent) are appointed by the court as joint conservators. These two individuals then take care of the conservatee and manage their affairs and personal health. Keep in mind that child conservatorship is referred to as guardianship in California, so conservatorship is not the answer to Child custody issues in this state.

How Does Joint Managing Conservatorship Work?

Remember how there are two types of probate conservatorship (conservator of the person and conservator of the estate)? Well, when there are two conservators, one may be appointed as the conservator of the person while the other takes the role of the conservator of the estate. For example, in a case where an elderly parent is a conservatee, the court may decide to appoint two of the individual’s children as conservatees.

A joint managing conservatorship can lessen the workload of a conservatorship, which can be considerable. However, this does come with drawbacks. The potential joint managing conservators, unlike a sole managing conservator, might at times disagree. This can lead to conflict about personal or financial matters.

The court requires the two adults who are looking to be appointed as conservators to prove that they are able to work mutually and synergize in the best interest of the conservatee. If after their appointment as conservatees it is realized that the two adults cannot work well together, the court can decide to replace one or both of them.

Can There Be More Than Two Joint Managing Conservators?

Now you know that there can be more than one conservator in California for a single conservatee, but you may have other questions. For example, many people wonder whether, in the case of co-conservatorship or joint managing conservatorship, there can be more than two conservators. Does “the more, the merrier” apply to conservatorships?

To answer this question, we make reference to the California Probate Code Section 2105, subdivision (a) and (b). It states that:

  1. The court, in its discretion, may appoint for the ward or conservatee:
  1. Two or more joint guardians or conservators of the person
  2. Two or more joint guardians or conservators of the estate
  3. Two or more joint guardians or conservators of the person and estate

(b) When joint guardians or conservators are appointed, each shall qualify in the same manner as a sole guardian or conservator.

As you can see, in a joint managing conservatorship, there can indeed be two or more conservators appointed to take care of the conservatee and manage their affairs. These conservators can play different roles or the same roles. What matters is that the court has seen a need for there to be more than two joint conservators in the conservatee’s case.

How Will the Powers of Joint Conservators Be Exercised?

Having answered the question asked in the above section, it is only normal that questions be raised regarding the delegation of powers and authority. This is expected and in a bid to avoid conflict between joint conservators, the state has made provisions for it. Subdivisions (c) to (e) of the same section of the California probate code state that:

(c) Subject to subdivisions (d) and (e):

  1. Where there are two guardians or conservators, both must concur to exercise a power
  2. Where there are more than two guardians or conservators, a majority must concur to exercise a power

(d) If one of the joint guardians or conservators dies or is removed or resigns, the powers and duties continue in the remaining joint guardians or conservators until further appointment is made by the court.

(e) Where joint guardians or conservators have been appointed and one or more are (1) absent from the state and unable to act, (2) otherwise unable to act, or (3) legally disqualified from serving, the court may, by order made with or without notice, authorize the remaining joint guardians or conservators to act as to all matters embraced within its order.

When Is Joint Managing Conservatorship Necessary?

Joint managing conservatorship (or co-conservatorship as it is commonly called in California) should be considered if:

  • The court sees the synergy to be in the best interest of the disabled adult
  • The role of conservator in the case of the disabled adult is too much for one person
  • The conservatee chooses to entrust different aspects of their affairs to different conservators
  • Professional conservators are needed in the different aspects of the conservatee’s affairs such as medical care
  • The personal conservator chosen by the conservatee is not qualified to handle all aspects of the conservatee’s affairs

Duties of Joint Managing Conservators

Here are some of the roles of the conservators of the estate and the roles of the conservators of the person. These roles can be split among joint managing conservators as needed.

The duties of the conservator of the person are as follows:

  • Arranging for the conservatee’s care and protection
  • Deciding on the conservatee’s accommodation
  • Making health care decisions that will be in the best interest of the conservatee
  • Arranging for the conservatees meals, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, transportation, housekeeping, and general wellbeing
  • Getting court permission to make medical decisions as well as decisions regarding surgical treatment and accommodation of the conservatee
  • Providing a status report to the court on the present health of the conservatee.

On the other hand, the conservator of the estate will play the following roles:

  • Managing the conservatee’s finances
  • Locating and taking control of the conservatee’s assets
  • Paying the conservatee’s bills
  • Making financial decisions for the conservatee
  • Collecting and managing the conservatee’s income
  • Responsibly investing the conservatee’s money
  • Protecting the conservatee’s assets
  • Accounting for any financial transaction and expenditures made to the conservatee and the court

Get Help with Your Joint Managing Conservatorship Legal Documents

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