Conservatorship is the court process for getting legal authority to make financial or personal care decisions for a person that cannot fully take care of themselves. Conservatorships are valuable tools for clients who failed to execute estate planning documents when able to do so or for developmentally disabled children who are legally adults under the law. Conservatorships should be personalized to address the specific needs of the incapacitated person. Some Conservatorships concern only the Person while others are only of the Estate and still others concern the Person and the Estate. The Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman has extensive experience in the field of special needs estate planning, including conservatorships and special needs trusts. If a conservatorship is necessary, our firm can guide you through the matter. If you need an experienced conservatorship attorney to help you through your legal matter, contact The Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman for a consultation.
Types of Conservatorships
In California, there are two types of conservatorships handled by the Probate Court. Limited Conservatorships are established for persons with developmental disabilities. Other probate conservatorships address those whose incapacity is not sourced in a developmental disability.
- General conservatorships: saved for adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. These subjects can be the elderly or adults that have been seriously impaired due to a degenerative illness or accident.
- Limited conservatorships: are for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot take care of themselves or their finances.
Common to all conservatorships is the legal system vesting basic civil and legal rights of one person, the Conservatee, in another, the Conservator. This is a serious step and requires understanding of the law and the emotional impact of such actions.
All Conservatorships heard by the Probate Court begin with the filing of Petition for Conservatorship. The Petitioner specifies whether the proceeding is a limited or general conservatorship and whether powers are being sought only for personal care matters (Conservatorship of the Person ), for powers to handle financial matters (Conservatorship of the Estate), or both.
When the Petition is for a Limited Conservatorship, the Court reviews 7 separate areas to decide what powers to take from the Conservatee and grant to the Conservator. These powers are as follows:
- Fix the conservatee’s residence or dwelling
- Access the conservatee’s confidential records or paper
- Consent or withhold consent to marriage on behalf of the conservatee
- Enter into contracts on behalf of the conservatee
- Give or withhold medical consent on behalf of the conservatee
- Select the conservatee’s social and sexual contacts and relationships
- Make decisions to educate the Conservatee
Some Conservators are granted all 7 powers while others may be granted only one or two or more. The powers not granted remain with the Conservatee.
Things to Consider Regarding Conservatorship
Is a conservatorship necessary?
Our firm will help clients assess and document the current level of competency to determine whether executing powers of attorney or health care documents is still a viable option. In addition, we will evaluate what process fits best with the way your family functions.
Are there other options available?
It is important to consider other options first, such as executing durable powers of attorney or creating a trust. A conservatorship should not be the first choice but rather a process to be used when there are no other viable, appropriate, options.
What are the consequences of creating a conservatorship?
By creating a conservatorship, there will be a public record of the incapacity. There is also heavy court involvement and oversight, including supervision, accountings, bonding fees and less flexibility. Sometimes this is exactly what is needed. Sometimes this is overbearing and burdensome. We help evaluate the pros and cons of proceeding in this fashion.
What are the responsibilities of a conservator?
The conservator of the estate manages the assets that are set aside for the protected person and must provide regular reports and accountings to the court. Conservators are held to high standards and the duties are significant.
Contact a Conservatorship Attorney at Our Firm Today
If you believe that your loved one would benefit from a conservatorship, it is important to discuss this legal matter with an experienced attorney. The Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman have over 35 years of experience providing compassionate and skillful legal services to families and individuals in need of guidance through the estate planning process. Our firm provides a comfortable environment to discuss these matters. We will help you make informed decisions that best fit your family’s situation. If you need to explore the topic of establishing a conservatorship, contact our firm to discuss your legal matter.