Have you ever wondered what would happen in someone close to you was involved in an accident that incapacitated them? How could you legally step in to help if they needed intensive treatment or were unable to manage their personal property? If you’re in the Golden State, the best solution may be a temporary conservatorship in California.
In an emergency situation, you need to act fast on behalf of a loved one. You might need to find a care provider to help them manage their medical and personal care decisions immediately, and a temporary conservatorship can help you do that. This article dives into what temporary conservatorship in California is and how to get one in California.
What Is a Conservatorship in California?
Before we delve into emergency conservatorships, we need to define a more basic type of conservatorship: probate conservatorships. This refers to legal arrangements where the judge appoints a conservator to oversee someone’s personal or financial affairs.
The conservatee (the person who needs help) may lack the mental ability or the physical ability to do this on their own. They may suffer from developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, biological brain disorders, or organic brain disorders, but they may also simply be getting on in age and need help with basic tasks.
The suitable person or organization that manages the conservatee’s affairs without undue influence is called the conservator. They are essentially a legal personal care provider for an incapacitated person.
There are two types of conservatorships:
Conservator of the person: Concerns the conservatee’s personal affairs, such as arranging for treatment services for a medical disability or drug addiction, providing housing and food, etc.
Conservator of the estate: Concerns the conservatee’s financial matters, such as bill pay, investments, and the like. A conservator of the estate may manage income from social security, retirement, or medical leave.
Permanent Conservatorship in California
There are two types of conservatorships when it comes to duration. Permanent conservatorships are generally more common and are often the eventual goal, but the court usually takes 60 days to prepare for a conservatorship hearing. These conservatorships are usually for elderly people or younger people who have been seriously impaired (such as permanent brain trauma) and require a higher level of care.
Such people may have a medical condition or mental disorders (which can include issues like chronic alcoholism) that require long-term treatment. A conservator may need to sign such individuals up for involuntary treatment, psychiatric treatment, and more.
Permanent conservatorships end only under specific circumstances, such as the death or resignation of the conservator. Check out other reasons why a conservatorship can end on the California Courts site. You can also learn more about specific types of conservatorships, such as the LPS conservatorship ((Lanterman-Petris Short) conservatorship), on our blog.
Temporary Conservatorship in California
On the other hand, there’s the subject of this article—the temporary conservatorship. In emergency situations, a judge can appoint a temporary conservator to attend to the potential conservatee’s immediate needs. The court can also assign a temporary conservator between the terms of two permanent conservators while a petition for renewal or reappointment of conservatorship is being processed.
A suitable family friend or family member or friend can serve as a temporary conservator and help the conservatee manage health-care decisions. For temporary conservatorship, you wait only five days before the court hearing. However, you can’t request a temporary conservatorship as a standalone option; you can normally only apply for one as part of a larger general conservatorship request.
Here are a few more quick facts about temporary conservatorships:
- A temporary conservator can be a conservator of the estate, person, or both.
- Temporary conservatorship cannot apply to people living in locked facilities and require extensive mental health treatment.
- A temporary conservatorship in California lasts between 30 – 60 days.
Restrictions on Temporary Conservators in California
The power of the temporary conservator over a conservatee isn’t as overarching as those involved in a permanent conservatorship. This is simply because of the shorter duration of this type of conservatorship. A temporary conservator can’t make certain long-term medical decisions and other choices for the incapacitated individual.
For example, the temporary conservator has no legal rights to sell or lease any of the potential conservatee’s estate and real property, even if they are a conservator of the estate. However, the court might allow the temporary conservator to relinquish real or personal property on the conservatee’s behalf if they find out that the action will avert irreparable harm to the conservatee. For instance, if the conservatee needs to liquidate financial resources to pay for a critical treatment program, this may be allowed.
You can learn more about the restrictions on temporary conservators from the California Handbook for Conservators.
How Much Does a Temporary Conservatorship Cost?
Temporary conservatorship costs aren’t so different from that of a permanent conservatorship. The fees involve filing a petition, court investigation, and attorney fees in some cases. However, hiring a conservatorship attorney and paying the astronomical cost isn’t usually necessary.
It will cost you $465 to file for a conservatorship in California. The court investigation fee varies depending on the court and your conservatee’s assets. Other fees include the conservator’s fee and the court-appointed attorney fees.
If you can’t afford all these fees, there is a fee waiver available for those who need it. If the conservatorship court accepts your waiver request, you will be sent a procedure on how to proceed with it.
Check here for more info on the costs you might incur during temporary conservatorship.
How to File for Temporary Conservatorship in California
Wondering how to file for a temporary conservatorship in California? The following steps will help you meet the legal criteria for temporary conservatorship. Remember that your proposed conservatee has the right to receive notification of their conservatorship proceedings, attend court hearings, and even oppose the petition for temporary conservatorship, an attorney, and a judge trial.
You can access the full legal requirements (in legalese) here.
1. File a Petition for Appointment of Temporary Conservator
First, you have to file a petition for the appointment of a conservator. Remember that a petition for a temporary conservator must be made in tandem with a general conservatorship request, so you’ll be requesting both.
The people who can file a petition for a temporary conservatorship include:
- Person closest to the conservatee
- The proposed temporary conservatee themselves
- The proposed conservator
- Public guardian or public conservator
- The proposed conservatee’s relatives, friends, or
- Any other interested party
Your petition for a temporary conservatorship should:
- Contain information on the proposed conservatee, their family members, and the conservator
- State the relationship between the proposed professional conservator and the conservatee
- State why the conservatee needs help and why it can’t wait for a permanent conservatorship
There are other forms related to this proceeding as well. A People’s Choice can help you file all the applicable documents with the court clerk.
Once you’ve prepared the paperwork, you pay the filing fees and the court investigation fee at the time of filing. You can get a fee waiver if you can’t afford to pay.
2. Notifying All Parties
As a petitioner, you have to notify everyone concerned with the person subject to the conservatorship of the upcoming hearing as a condition of admission. Because this is such a quick process, you won’t have a 30-day period or 14-day period to accomplish this. You have to take care of it immediately.
You can provide notice with a copy of the petition and a written notice on the court hearing. Your conservatee should also be given the citation and a copy of the petition for conservatorship.
2. Undergo the Court Conservatorship Investigation
During this step, the court investigator will look into the conservatee and the temporary conservatorship process to see if your situation meets the legal criteria. This is a truncated version of what happens during the general conservatorship process.
The conservatorship investigator may look into:
- The conservatee’s state and assets.
- The conservatee’s medical situation and treatment record
4. Court Hearing
Through a court hearing, the conservatorship court decides whether your proposed conservatee is eligible for temporary conservatorship or not. The conservatee needs to attend this unless the court investigator waives this requirement. Infirm or elderly individuals who cannot attend are also exempt.
If the court declares your proposed conservatee eligible, it will issue the temporary letters of conservatorship and the order appointing a temporary conservator. Both the proposed conservatee and the temporary professional conservator must file and submit the documents to the court to make this official.
Do You Need a Conservatorship Attorney for a Temporary Conservatorship?
You probably don’t need a conservatorship attorney to set up a temporary conservatorship. When it comes to the appointment of a conservator to handle medical and personal care decisions, the barrier to entry is usually the paperwork. It can be daunting to navigate through document preparation. However, A People’s Choice can help you with this.
The exception to this is if the conservatee or another party chooses to contest the temporary conservator appointment. Usually, in this case, both you and the other party will need an attorney.
How A People’s Choice Can Assist with Temporary Conservatorship Paperwork
Unlike permanent conservatorship, a temporary conservatorship is like a rushed process to urgently help a disabled person. You have little time to handle all the paperwork when preparing for one.
A People’s Choice is a document preparation platform that can help you with your document preparation process. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you’re trying to fill out legal paperwork alone, and A People’s Choice can help.
We have an affordable and reliable team of experienced legal professionals in California. We can’t give legal advice, but we can help you with a variety of civil legal paperwork matters, including seeking limited conservator power, LPS conservatorships, and temporary conservatorships. We also serve many California counties, including Santa Clara County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, San Francisco County, and more. Contact us today to get your loved ones the support they need!