Conservatorship is a legal proceeding where a judge appoints a responsible person to care for another person who is unable to care for himself or herself and manage his or her finances. The person who needs care is an adult.

Types of Conservatorships in California

There are two main types of conservatorships established in California’s Probate Code: general and limited.

  • General conservatorship is used in situations where adult is not able to care for himself or herself or their finances.
  • Limited conservatorship is used in situations where adult has developmental disabilities and cannot care for self or their finances.
  • Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship is used in situations where adult is severely mentally disabled who need special care and to live in restrictive living environments and require extensive medical treatment.

Duties of Conservator

The person who is appointed the responsible person is called a conservator. The main function of a conservator is to arrange for the care, protection, and support of the conservatee (person needing assistance) and protecting conservatee’s finances and property.

Period of Conservatorship

Every case is unique. Some conservatorships are temporary while others are permanent. The current situation and future needs of the conservatee are carefully evaluated to determine type of length of protection.

Conservator is Responsible for Person or Estate

The court awards a conservator conservatorship in the person or estate. A conservator of a person is concerned with the overall well-being of the conservatee. Among common duties of a conservator of a person are making sure conservatee has proper food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. A conservator of an estate is concerned with the financial affairs of the conservatee. Paying bills, collecting income, entering contracts are the types of duties the conservator of an estate will need to do on behalf of the conservatee.

There can be more than one conservator appointed with varying duties

The court may appoint one conservator to handle both person and estate or split duties among multiple conservators. Only the conservator appointed to handle the duty may do so legally.

Conservatorship Process

The Probate Court Judge makes the decision to appoint a conservator after a petition is filed, the matter is investigated, and a hearing is held. A case filing fee and a court investigator fee is paid when the petition is filed. A fee waiver may be possible if certain conditions are met. The court investigator examines medical condition or mental state along with the finances and property of the proposed conservatee and reports findings to the probate court. At the hearing, the judge makes findings as to the process, that the appropriate parties were notified of the petition, accepts the investigator’s report and recommendation, and hearings from parties and any witnesses.
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