The decision to seek a conservatorship of a loved one is difficult.  It often arises under crisis circumstances, Claveran Law Firm is experienced in handling both legal and personal issues that arise during these proceedings.

What is a Conservatorship and who is it for?

A conservatorship is a court process where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for an incapacitated adult  (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances. 

If the individual you are seeking to make decisions for is under the age of 18, a guardianship may be necessary.

The need to petition for a Conservatorship, arises when a love one, usually a disabled or an adult suffering from a physical or mental incapacity, has reached a stage in life that he/she is unable to take care of his/her personal needs or needs assistance with activities of daily living, such as walking, bathing, cooking, dressing, etc.   They usually are also unable to manage their financial affairs, such as paying their bills and managing their back account and other financial accounts living he/she vulnerable to undue influence or financial abuse. 

What are the duties of a Conservator?

The appointed conservator, has a fiduciary duty to act solely on behalf of the conservatee, and to make decisions in the best interest of the conservatee.   When the court grants powers to the conservator to take care of the personal affairs, this is generally considered a conservatorship of “the person”.  If there is a need to take care of the financial affairs of the conservatee, this is generally considered a conservatorship of “the estate.”   Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may grant the conservator powers for both “the person” and “the estate.”

The duties of the conservator of the person may include:

  • Arrange for the conservatee’s care and protection
  • Decide where the conservatee will live
  • Make arrangements for the conservatee’s:
    • Meals,
    • Health care,
    • Clothing,
    • Personal care,
    • Housekeeping,
    • Transportation,
    • Shelter,
    • Recreation, and
    • Well-being
  • Get approval from the court for certain decisions about the conservatee’s health care or living arrangements.
  • Report to the court on the conservatee’s current status.

The duties of a conservator of the estate are to:

  • Manage the conservatee’s finances
  • Locate and take control of all assets
  • Collect the conservatee’s income
  • Make a budget to show what the conservatee can afford
  • Pay the conservatee’s bills
  • Responsibly invest the conservatee’s money
  • Protect the conservatee’s assets
  • Account to the court and to the conservatee for the management of the conservatee’s asset

Although Conservators may be given broad powers, over “the person” and” the estate,” they must seek a court order before making important decisions.  Conservators are monitored by the court and are required to make annual reports to the court on the status of the conservatee, his/her person, assets and affairs. 

Who can file for a Conservatorship? 

In California there are a numbers of persons that can file a petition for Conservatorship and include the following persons:

  • The spouse or domestic partner of the proposed conservatee
  • A relative of the proposed conservatee
  • Any other interested person or friend of the proposed conservatee
  • The proposed conservatee, himself or herself
  • Any interested state or local entity or agency

In appointing a conservator, the court will usually consider what is in the best interest of the conservatee.  The court will also take into account if the proposed conservatee has nominated someone to act as his conservator.  This assumes that the proposed conservatee has the mental and physical ability to express his/her preference.    If the proposed conservatee has not or lacks capacity to nominate anyone, the law provides a list of preferences for the nomination of a conservator.  The court determines whether all of these persons are qualified to serve as conservator and whether they are bondable. 

The order of preference is:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Adult Child
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Any other person the law permits
  • The Public Guardian

Ultimately, regardless of the order of preference, the selection of the conservator is up to the judge.  The judge makes this decision by considering the best interest of the proposed conservatee. 

If a love one or someone your know needs a conservator, but there is no one qualified or willing to serve, there are private professional fiduciaries or an attorney who can serve as a conservator.   Professional fiduciaries charge fees but the court must approve in advance all fees paid to the professional fiduciary. 

How to file for a Conservatorship?

Filing for a conservatorship is a long and complex process.  The person seeking to file a conservatorship petition must be certain this is an appropriate and required arrangement for the proposed conservatee.  In California the process is commenced by the completion and filing of the Probate Conservatoship Petition Form No. GC-310.  The conservatorship petition must be accompanied by a Capacity Declaration, signed by a health care professional in support of the conservatorship petition.   The process involves several stages:

  • Completing the Conservatorship Petition
  • Filing of the Conservatorship Petition in the Court
  • Informing and providing personal notice to the proposed conservatee
  • Informing and providing notice to the proposed conservatee’s relatives
  • Investigation by the court investigator
  • Hearing held before a judge to hear the evidence in support of the petition
  • Judge then grants, denies or places conditions and limits on the petition

 The documents are filed with the court and then the Court will set a hearing to hear the evidence supporting the need for a conservatorship.   The Court will appoint a Probate Investigator, who must visit the proposed conservatee and determine if the conservatorship is in the best interest of the proposed conservatee.  The Court will then appoint an independent attorney to represent exclusively  the interests of the proposed conservatee.  Depending on the assets of the estate the legal fees are paid either by the County or the estate of the proposed conservatee.   If the proposed conservatee has no assets a waiver of court and filing fees may be granted. 

How a Conservatorship Lawyer Could Help

At Claveran Law Firm we recognize how complex the process can be to gain conservatorship of an adult, as well as guardianship over minors in certain circumstances. You can trust in us.

Contact us for your Conservatorship Need

A significant portion of our practice focuses on Conservatorships that put in place legal protections for loved ones who are incapacitated and vulnerable due to a disability or illness. If you need legal help with any of these issues, please contact our office today.