Illness and injuries can alter the course of our lives. That’s why it sometimes comes as a relief to the sick and disabled when a loved one steps up to care for their needs and manage their affairs. In California, there are legal arrangements in which the court appoints such a caregiver. One of these arrangements is called an LPS conservatorship.

In this article, we are focusing on the LPS conservatorship, which is one of the more controversial types of conservatorships. You’ll learn what an LPS conservatorship is, what it entails, and whether it’s the right choice for you and your loved one.

How is an LPS Conservatorship Started?=

Only designated mental health treatment facilities, agencies or the courts can make a referral to the Public Guardian for LPS. Only the Public Guardian can petition the court for the initial appointment as conservator.

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…or continue reading the article below to learn more about conservatorships and specifically, what an LPS conservatorship is.

Conservatorship in California

The concept of conservatorship is multifaceted in the United States. In some US states, it has to do with an adult taking care of a child and managing their affairs. However, in states like California, it denotes only an adult taking care of another adult and managing their affairs. It has nothing to do with children.

Let’s expound on that a bit more. By definition, in California, conservatorship refers to a court process or proceeding in which the judge appoints a caregiver for an adult who is incapable of managing their personal life and financial affairs. This caregiver may be a responsible person, professional conservator, or certified agency, and may care for the financial or personal affairs of the conservatee.

Here’s the important part: conservatorship arrangements are designed for an elderly adult or disabled person who has been incapacitated due to old age or accidents. Younger adults with impairments or other disordered persons can also be enrolled in a conservatorship arrangement. However, children who require such assistance in California need guardianship, not a conservatorship.

Probate Conservatorships

In California, there are two types of conservatorship. The classification of these types of conservatorship is determined by the gravity of the conservatee’s disability. The more common of these is a probate conservatorship.

A probate conservatorship concerns a conservatee who cannot care for themselves or manage their personal affairs because of old age or disability. There are two types of probate conservators: conservator of the person (manages housing, medical decisions, etc.) and conservator of the estate (manages financial affairs). While processing the private conservatorship request, the court may install a temporary conservator to care for the conservatee’s immediate needs.

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships

We have reached the main topic of this article: the Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship. This type of conservatorship arrangement is also called mental health conservatorship. It has to do with involuntary treatment for someone in a psychiatric facility.

Legislators Lanterman, Petris, and Short created the LPS Act in1969. An LPS conservatorship arrangement, the act dictates, concerns someone who is suffering from a grave mental disorder in a psychiatric or mental health facility. In this case, the court appoints an adult to be responsible for the care and medical treatment of the conservatee without unjust infringement on their civil rights.

Conservatees in this conservatorship arrangement mostly do not have insight into their predicament and are non-compliant with medication. That’s why LPS authorizes an involuntary medical treatment of the mental illness in a locked facility. This makes the LPS conservatorship a sensitive one to authorize, and only people with specific grave mental illnesses can qualify.

Qualification for an LPS Conservatorship

lps conservatorship

Legally, there is a difference between “organic brain disorders” and “grave mental disability.”  The former includes degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and the like. People with organic brain disorders, developmental disabilities, and other mental illnesses like drug addiction, dementia, brain trauma, undue influence of alcohol, and the like don’t qualify for LPS conservatorship.

The mental illnesses that qualify an adult for the LPS conservatorship arrangement are different from biological brain disorders. As stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), LPS can only be recommended and approved for adults with the mental illnesses listed below.

  • Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression
  • Clinical Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Schizoid-Affective Disorder

Proving a Grave Mental Disability

Only a psychiatrist authorized to conduct LPS evaluations can determine if a person is gravely disabled after an initial appointment. Aside from medical and psychiatric evaluations, the court must also be convinced that the potential conservatee needs the conservatorship. Due to their mental illness, the person must be unable to care for their basic personal needs (food, clothing, and shelter).

Establishing the gravely disabled status can be tricky because most of the factors used in establishing grave disability can be countered. For example, pretend the court is considering an LPS conservatorship for a woman named Jan. Jan is clinically depressed and can’t provide food, clothing, and shelter for herself. However, her brother makes these provisions for her. In this case, the court may not consider them as gravely disabled. In fact, Jan could live in a homeless shelter, get food and clothing from dumpsters, seek alms for money, and still not be considered gravely disabled.

The LPS conservatorship borders mainly on the individual’s safety and the safety of others regarding behavior and health. The grave disability status can still be achieved with involuntary treatment approved through a petition. So if Jan starts threatening to harm herself or others around her, an LPS petition for her may be successful.

The Process of Seeking LPS Conservatorship

Once it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that a person is mentally disabled and exhibits behavior that is harmful both to themselves and to others, it’s time to seek LPS conservatorship for them. Here’s how.

LPS Conservatorship Step 1: Evaluation

First, contact a crisis intervention team to evaluate the mentally ill individual and make recommendations to place such person on hold/containment for a 72-hour treatment. A qualified psychiatrist, mental health personnel, or police officer must do this.

The individual is then transported to a psychiatric facility. There, they are held and given intensive treatment and psychiatric care to make sure that they do not constitute harm to others.

LPS Conservatorship Step 2: Containment and Hearing

When the 72-hour hold/containment is due, the administering the mental health treatment to them may decide to hold the person for another 14 days, during which they are stabilized. The 14-day hold cannot be approved without a probable cause hearing.

During the hearing, the psychiatrist proves that the potential conservatee is not yet stabilized despite intensive treatment. They still pose potential harm to themselves and others and need conservatorship.

LPS Conservatorship Step 3: Conservatorship Investigation

After the probable cause hearing and during the 14-day hold, the psychiatrist can request an LPS conservatorship investigation. The conservatorship investigator conducts this in the office of the public guardian. The investigation reports are submitted to the public guardian.

After reviewing the reports, the public guardian decides whether to petition the court for a temporary conservatorship proceeding (T-Con) and set the date for the LPS conservatorship hearing. A T-Con allows the psychiatrist and a temporary conservator to hold the potential conservatee in the treatment facility for a period of 30 days, during which an individualized treatment plan is executed.

LPS Conservatorship Step 4: Petition and Decision

The potential conservator files the petition, which includes reports from the treatment facility, psychiatrist, and public guardian’s office. The court then decides whether or not to approve an LPS conservatorship.

The Role of the LPS Conservator

Taking care of a person with a grave mental disability is much more tasking than probate or limited conservatorship. In the LPS conservatorship arrangement, once the court approves the petition and appoints an LPS conservator, the conservator has the legal authority to do the following.

Temporary Accommodations

The conservator can choose from the following options:

Facility with Fewer Restrictions: A private residence, mental health treatment facility, or nursing home. There, the conservatee will ostensibly have access to qualitative healthcare from mental health professionals and limited restrictions. This means their legal rights to movement are not infringed upon.

Mid-Grade Facility: A psychiatric treatment facility or acute care facility, which may be federal, state, or privately owned. The conservator will have access to the facility, and the conservatee will receive professional mental treatment there.

Facility with Full Restrictions: A psychiatric hospital, locked facility, acute care facility, psychiatric nursing facility, or any other licensed facility where the conservator cannot visit the conservatee. This is the most restrictive option.

Other Decisions

The conservator can:

  • Make serious medical decisions on behalf of the conservatee
  • Require the conservatee to receive specific treatment that may help in healing their grave disability
  • Require the conservatee to undergo psychotropic treatment and take psychotropic medications
  • Manage the conservatee’s financial affairs and financial matters
  • Make financial decisions for the conservatee when it affects their mental health treatment

How Does LPS Conservatorship Affect the Conservatee’s Freedom?

As you can imagine from the criteria for conservatorship, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act calls for a restrictive conservatorship. Here are some factors concerning the conservatee’s freedoms to keep in mind.

Driving: The conservatee, after being placed in an LPS conservatorship arrangement, may not be able to possess a license to operate a motor vehicle. This depends on the outcome of the DMV’s evaluation.

Weapons: Once the LPS conservatorship is granted, the conservatee may be stripped of the right to possess, control, or maintain a firearm or any other weapon that can pose a deadly threat.

Consent to Medical Treatment: The conservatee may lose their right to consent to or refuse psychiatric treatment that can help in treating their grave disability. Once the conservator consents to these treatments or medications, the conservatee has no choice in the matter.

Finances: An LPS conservatee may lose their individual rights to enter into any legal contract that has to do with money or assets.

The limitations above may be overturned or reinstated with the court’s approval.

Obtain the Right LPS Conservatorship Documents

A People’s Choice does not prepare LPS Conservatorship documents. If you require documents for a Limited or regular Conservatorship, A People’s Choice is dedicated to providing our clients with the most accurate and affordable legal documents. Filling out conservatorship documents completely and accurately without the help of a lawyer can save you time, energy, and money. Reach out to us today to get started.