A limited conservatorship is a legal process when a judge orders a responsible person, also called a conservator, to care for an adult who has a developmental disability (conservatee). As an illustration, an adult who has a developmental disability means they suffer from a severe or chronic disability due to a mental illness or physical impairment. Accordingly, a limited conservatorship can be created to help the conservatee with their personal or financial needs; however, the powers of a limited conservatorship are just that – limited. Specifically, a limited conservatorship allows the conservator to make personal decisions for an individual in various aspects of their life. Furthermore, it allows the conservator to arrange for the person’s living arrangements and manage any necessary mental health treatment if the person is not able or willing to voluntarily accept these things.
Types of Limited Conservatorships
The powers of a limited conservatorship are based on the type of limited conservatorship being applied for. There are different types of limited conservatorships; 1) conservatorship of the person, 2) conservatorship of the estate, and 3) conservatorship of the person and estate.
- A limited conservatorship of the person. This type of limited conservatorship is a court process in which a person has been appointed by the court to care for a developmentally disabled adult known as the “conservatee”. The proceeding is “limited” because the powers only apply to areas of the conservatee’s life that the court has determined the person is unable to independently manage. In this regard, the conservatee retains all other legal and civil rights that are not specifically identified in the conservatorship order. In most instances, the powers of a limited conservatorship of the person allow the conservator to arrange for the housing, health care, meals, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, recreation, and education of the conservatee. In contrast, it does not allow the appointed individual power to manage the conservatee’s money.
- A limited conservatorship of the estate. This type of limited conservatorship is a court arrangement in which the conservator handles the conservatee’s financial matters. Accordingly, the powers of a limited conservatorship of the estate allow the conservator to pay bills and collect income on behalf of the conservatee. For the most part, a limited conservatorship of the estate is not needed if the proposed conservatee receives public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income. By the same token, it is also not needed if the proposed conservatee is employed and earns a wage. However, a conservatorship of the estate will be needed if the proposed conservatee has other assets, such as an inheritance or a lawsuit settlement.
Duties and Powers of a Limited Conservatorship
The court will give the limited conservator specified responsibilities and duties in administering the conservatee’s person and their estate. More importantly, the Letters of Conservatorship and the court’s orders of appointment detail how the conservator is authorized to act on behalf of the conservatee. Essentially, one of the limited conservator’s primary duties is to help the limited conservatee develop self-reliance and independence. This involves providing the conservatee the opportunity to engage in training and education, social outings, and obtain medical and psychological services.
Specifically, the powers of a limited conservatorship require the conservator to uphold the following duties on behalf of the conservatee’s estate:
- Manage the conservatee’s estate under rules set out in Probate Code section 2450-2467.
- Contract on behalf of the limited conservatee and his/her estate.
- Complete and settle claims asserted against the conservatee.
- Invest assets on behalf of the conservatee.
- Sell assets under rules set out in Probate Code section 2540-2548.
- Pay the debts and expenses of the estate.
- Borrow money, give security, lease, convey or exchange property of the estate under rules set out in Probate Code section 2430-2431.
As a rule, a bond is required for a limited conservatorship of the estate. This makes sure that the conservator properly performs their duties as conservator of the estate. In addition, it offers protection to the conservatee should the conservator act fraudulently with the handling of monies. Furthermore, the conservator will need to file an annual accounting with the court detailing how the estate is being managed and how the conservatee’s money is being spent.
Compensation in Limited Conservatorships
The powers of a limited conservatorship put a substantial amount of responsibility on the person who has been appointed by the court to manage the affairs of another. Accordingly, a limited conservator may be paid for their service. In this regard, the conservator of the estate must petition the court for payment of services of the conservator of the estate or conservator of the person.
Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to set up a limited conservatorship for your loved one. We can help you prepare all the legal documents you need to petition for a limited conservatorship.