What is a Conservatorship?
A conservator is an individual appointed by a court to make financial and/or health care decisions on behalf of someone who has been deemed unable to make those decisions for themselves. A conservator will play a critical role in the affairs of the incapacitated individual, called a conservatee. Ensuring a conservator is appropriately appointed is very important.
Considerations for Conservatorship
If the individual in need of assistance has previously executed a power of attorney for health and medical matters, they will most likely not need a court appointed conservator. A conservator is likely to be appointed if an individual is deemed by a court to be incapacitated, which could be the case in a number of scenarios, including when an individual:
- Is in a coma;
- Is mentally challenged;
- Has suffered a brain injury;
- Suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia; or
- Has had a stroke.
A Conservatorship can be complete, meaning the conservator has the right to make all/or health and financial decisions on behalf of the individual. A doctor is required to provide evidence that the individual requires conservatorship.
Conservatorship must be granted by a court. To instigate the process, the requestor must file appropriate forms with the probate court in the county where the proposed conservatee resides. The court will then hear evidence of the individual’s mental incapacity and decide whether a Conservatorship is appropriate. There is an opportunity for anyone to object to the Conservatorship or the proposed conservator. If no friend or family member is suitable to act as the conservator, a public conservator may be appointed.
Given the scope of the work, conservators may be compensated. They are reimbursed for expenses and, if compensation is requested, are paid for their services from the estate of the conservatee. The Conservatorship does not end unless the conservatee dies or it is found they are no longer incapacitated.
How to Get Conservatorship in California
In order to get a conservatorship in the state of California, interested parties will the following documents:
- Petition of Conservatorship
Essentially, a petition of conservatorship provides an overview of the situation. It includes information about the intended conservator, as well as the proposed conservatee, and the petitioner if they differ from the conservator. Additionally, the petition will describe why conservatorship is necessary and why it is the only solution in this circumstance.
- Confidential Supplemental Information Form
The confidential supplemental information form describes why the proposed conservatee is not suited to take care of their own needs. This document will go into more detail about the petition of conservatorship to protect the privacy of the conservatee and further illustrate why conservatorship is necessary.
- Confidential Conservatorship Screening Form
The confidential conservatorship screen form provides more detail about the proposed conservator such as their relationship with the conservatee and any personal information that could impact their ability to act as a conservator such as a criminal record. This form must be filled out by the intended conservator.
- Duties of Conservator Form
The duties of conservator form lists the duties and responsibilities of the conservator. Essentially, it’s a formal record of everything that the conservator is authorized to handle on behalf of the conservatee as well as how this information will be reported and/or recorded.
- Notices Regarding the Conservatorship
Once these documents have been filed, the conservatee must be served a copy of the petition as well as a citation about the proposed conservatorship. It should be noted that the intended conservator cannot serve this notice. Likewise, a copy of the written petition and the court hearing notice must be mailed to the conservatee, the conservatee’s partner, and close relatives. The petitioner is not able to mail these documents.
How to Fight Conservatorship
The basis of a conservatorship is that the conservatee is incapable of managing their personal and financial affairs. If a conservatee can prove that this is false, or is no longer true, the conservatorship can be nullified. While simple in theory, this can be difficult for conservatee’s that have limited access to resources that can prove their competency and in situations where a conservator wants to maintain the conservatorship regardless of the conservatee’s wishes.
If a friend or family member is suffering from incapacitation, it can be a stressful time. Contact us today for assistance in securing a Conservatorship.