In California, conservatorships are created by the court to protect incapacitated adults. In California, we have two types of Conservatorships: “Conservatorship of the Person” and “Conservatorship of the Estate.” The difference is a Conservatorship of the Person oversees the personal affairs of the individual, while the Conservatorship of the Estate handles the financial affairs.
For example you may have a relative that experienced a stroke and has been disoriented and unable to recognize the people in their life. The doctors say the person is incapacitated. Your living relative is now unable to make the proper decisions for her personal life and financial life. With the help of our law firm, we can petition the court to have you or another person appointed to handle your relative’s personal and financial affairs and decisions.
A personal conservator would be able to make decisions for personal needs such as food, shelter, clothing, or health.
A financial conservator would be able to manage financial resources of the conservatee (the incapacitated person), including the payment of bills, investment of assets and handling all financial decisions. This could include helping to resist fraud and undue influence to financial decisions made by others.
Who may be the Conservator?
A Conservator must be nominated, then approved and appointed by the courts. The conservator can be nominated by the incapacitated if he or she has sufficient mental capacity to do so. Additionally, a spouse, domestic partner, adult child, parent, sibling of the conservatee may nominate a conservator. The court has the sole discretion to appoint the conservator.
Disadvantages of a Conservatorship
A conservatorship is a court proceeding which by its nature becomes a public record of your situation, costs money in terms of court costs and legal fees, is a slow process involving court investigators and judges along with court accountings. Once a conservatorship commences it will continue until the conservatee either regains capacity or dies. Court accountings covering all financial aspects of the conservatorship may be required every two years and must be presented in the court required format.
Avoid Conservatorship and gain “Peace of Mind”
The best strategy to avoid all of the above is to have a California Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Assets. This way, if a person becomes incapacitated in the future, their instructions regarding health and financial matters will be clearly stated and can be carried out by their designated agent without court involvement.