Many people become incapacitated at some point in their lives. This is usually due to old age, protracted illness, or both. And when this occurs, a conservatorship arrangement can help care for the incapacitated individual. If you’re a good candidate to become a conservator for a loved one and you’re in need of guidance, a conservatorship specialist may be able to help.

A conservatorship specialist is not an actual conservator; instead, they are certified specialists that can help you as the conservator do a good job in certain states. But does this job role even exist in California? And if not, who can you turn to for help with your conservatorship? Read on to learn more about the role of conservatorship specialists in California and how these professionals can help you manage your loved one’s needs.

Types of Conservatorships

conservatorship specialist

Before we get into the role of the conservatorship specialist, let’s discuss the conservatorships themselves. The conservatorship process seeks to transfer duties and powers from the vulnerable person to dedicated individuals. The conservator then has the power to make important decisions on behalf of the incompetent adult or conservatee. In California, such an arrangement for a child is called guardianship.

In California, there are three basic types of conservatorship. Here’s a basic explanation of each one.

General Conservatorships

This type of conservatorship applies to adults who can’t care for themselves or manage their finances. In most instances, the conservatee is an older person that requires mental health conservatorship alongside other treatment options. However, young people may also become conservatees. This mainly pertains to those impaired due to accidents or injury.

Limited Conservatorship

This type of conservatorship applies to adults with developmental disabilities. Such individuals cannot take care of their personal property. However, they do not require higher-level care, such as mental health conservatorship.

In states outside of California, a limited conservatorship sometimes applies to minors. Individuals subjected to child protective services conservatorship include those with epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy, or intellectual disabilities before reaching 18 years old. Individuals with other intellectual disabilities may also need a limited conservatorship. Severe developmental disabilities, however, may call for general conservatorship.

Temporary Conservatorship

This form of conservatorship applies when an individual requires immediate assistance. For example, if an individual is in an accident that incapacitates them, they may need the immediate help of a conservatory. In such cases, the judge appoints a temporary conservator for an estimated period of time.

A temporary conservator provides temporary care and support to the conservatee. They also protect the conservatee’s personal property during this limited period of appointment.

What Is a Conservatorship Specialist?

We’ve already mentioned that in California, an arrangement for the care and wellbeing of a minor is called guardianship. However, in some states, these arrangements are considered conservatorships. In states where this is the case, conservatorship specialists are tasked by the state with arranging and managing the conservatorship for the minor.

In states like this, such as Texas, a conservatorship specialist may take over cases from investigation caseworkers after children are removed from their homes and placed in care outside their homes. This career is related to that of a child protective services specialist, FAD specialist (Foster Adoptive Homes), investigations specialist for child welfare, CPS conservatorship worker, CPS investigator trainee, CPS licensing investigator, and more.

A conservatorship specialist’s job can include:

  • Ordering criminal background checks on potential caretakers and screening for relevant work experience
  • Finding the right type of caseworker to work with the child
  • Acting as an investigation specialist for the continued wellbeing of the child

However, in California, there is no such thing as a conservatorship specialist. If you were searching for this term hoping to find someone to help you with your conservatorship, however, you are not alone! Conservatorship specialists may be protective services employees with a more niche market, but there are plenty of places where California residents can get legal conservatorship help. However, before we get into that, let’s take a look at what you may need help with.

The Role of the Conservator

A conservator has the role of providing exceptional service and personal care to the incapacitated individual. For most people, the conservator is a loved one (for example, you could become a conservator for an elderly parent). However, there are also professional conservators who make careers of conservatorships.

The conservator can be 1) a conservator of the person or 2) a conservator of the estate. In the first situation, the conservator arranges care for the conservatee. On the other hand, a conservator of the estate manages the financial aspects of the incapacitated individual. Here are some of the duties of the conservator in both scenarios.

Duties as Conservator of the Person

  • Addressing the conservatee’s care and other featured treatment programs
  • Making decisions regarding where the conservatee lives
  • Reporting to the court concerning the conservatee’s status
  • Managing the conservatee’s healthcare, recreation, clothing, meals, transportation, housekeeping, and personal care

Duties as the Conservator of the Estate

  • Taking control of the conservatee’s assets
  • Managing the conservatee’s finances
  • Paying the conservatee’s bills
  • Collecting any income due to the conservatee
  • Making budget arrangement services to families of the conservatee
  • Investing the conservatee’s money on their behalf
  • Accounting before the court and the conservatee concerning the management of their assets

Professional Conservators and Conservatorship Specialists: Conservatorships as a Career

A professional private conservator can step in if an incapacitated person has no one else to fill the role. The average salary for a professional conservator in the U.S. is $59,000 per year. However, salary stacks vary depending on the state one resides. In California, the average actual salary figures are $57,774 per year. The salary distribution range mainly relies on one’s target salary. The hourly salary expectations are $27.78.

Becoming a Conservator

If you want to become the conservator for a loved one, you have to file some paperwork with the court. After the determination of the petition for your appointment as a conservator, the judge signs and files the order in court. At that point, you’ve become a conservator.

Before fully assuming your role, you must adhere to the following qualifications:

  • Sign and acknowledge the receipt of a statement outlining your duties and liabilities as a conservator
  • Acquire a bond. This guarantees that you’ll perform your duties as required by the California laws
  • Sign an oath indicating that you’ll perform all duties granted to you
  • File all the papers with the court clerk

Understanding Letters of Conservatorship

After your appointment as conservator, you must obtain your letters of conservatorship from the court clerk. The letter of conservatorship proves your legal appointment by the judge (after a proper background check) to oversee the life of the incapacitated individual. It outlines some of your duties as a conservator and other ample overtime opportunities.

When acting on behalf of the conservatee before persons, organizations, or government agencies, you need to provide certified copies of your letters of conservatorship. It’s the role of the court to file the original letters of conservatorship.

If you need certified copies of the letters at any time, you can visit the court clerk’s office. To determine the authenticity of the letter, you must look out for the original seal. You must also some fee to obtain a certified copy of the letter from the court clerk.

When Do You Need Certified Copies of Your Letters?

As a conservatorship specialist, you require copies of your letters to:

  • Create a bank account for the conservatee
  • Change the postal address for the conservatee
  • Access the conservatee’s safe deposit box and create a new one during the changeover process
  • Sign lease agreements on behalf of the disabled individual
  • Prove to medical personnel at the hospital that you have the authority over the conservatee’s medical treatment
  • Transfer the conservatee’s stocks and bank accounts into your name as the competent adult
  • Request information concerning the conservatee’s affairs from government agencies
  • Seek government benefits on behalf of the conservatee
  • Obtain the conservatee’s assets from an individual that managed them previously

What Are the Rights of a Conservatee During Conservatorship?

Of course, even when under conservatorship, a conservatee retains some fundamental rights. This includes the right to make important decisions that affect their life and personal property.

Like any normal human being, a conservatee has the right to:

  • Be represented in court by a lawyer
  • Request the judge to change conservators
  • Request the judge to end the conservatorship
  • Directly receive their salary
  • Exercise personal rights such as accessing personal mail, receiving visitors, disposition of assets, and making telephone calls
  • Make or update their will
  • Get married
  • Vote during elections unless the judge has proven otherwise
  • Have control over how they spend their money
  • Making medical decisions, unless the judge has transferred such roles to the conservatorship specialist
  • Engage in business transactions

Ending or Changing the Conservatorship Arrangement

conservatorship specialist

There may come a time when your responsibilities towards the assigned conservatee end. A conservatorship may end if:

  • The conservatee dies
  • The judge decides the conservatee can handle their personal affairs on their own
  • The judge appoints another person to take the conservatorship roles on your behalf

When the judge appoints another person to take over your conservatorship role, that person becomes a successor conservator. A judge appoints a new conservator if the first one resigns or dies. A judge may also terminate a conservator’s appointment and select a different individual due to improper use of the position.

Despite that, the current conservator is briefed first before any changes take place. This gives them room to wind up any active conservatorship responsibilities.

Alternatives to Conservatorships

When an incapacitated person is appointed a conservator, they lose some powers and legal rights. Therefore, as the extended family or friends to the conservatee, you need to evaluate other options before deciding to apply conservatorship law. There are some viable alternatives to conservatorships; you may act as an advocate to the incapacitated person, become a guardian, or take one of the routes outlined below.

Family law specialists should only consider conservatorship when the person finds it difficult to communicate or make any decisions. Alternatives to conservatorship in the practice of family law include:

  • Picking a living trust
  • Appointing a representative payee
  • A durable power of attorney
  • Guardianship
  • A durable medical power of attorney
  • Family-based safety service specialist

Getting Help with A People’s Choice

If you’re in need of a conservatorship specialist in California, you should first know that this job description doesn’t really exist. Despite that, you can request conservatorship services from other relevant specialists. If you need to learn more about your duties and the process of conservation treatment encasement, you could read the California probate code or consult a lawyer for additional guidance as a book conservator for any legal parties. However, we at A People’s Choice can also help.

At A People’s Choice, we can help you understand when to request the services of a conservatorship specialist and the fees required. Through our legal documents assistance services in California, we seek to ensure that every individual receives the best guidance and support. You can get started here or call us directly at 800-747-2780 to get started with your conservatorship today.