Conservatorship: A Guide to Understanding & Navigating the Process

Conservatorship is a legal concept that provides a way for someone to care for a person who is unable to care for themselves. It is a legal arrangement that grants decision-making power to a conservator who is appointed by a court.

This process is commonly used for people who are elderly, disabled, or have special needs. A conservator is responsible for making decisions about the individual’s finances, health care, and general well-being. This article will provide an overview of conservatorship, how it works, and what you need to know to navigate the process.

What is conservatorship and when is it necessary?

Conservatorship is a legal arrangement where a conservator is appointed by a court to manage the personal affairs or finances, or both, of a person who is unable to make their own decisions due to physical or mental incapacity.

A conservator is usually a family member, a friend, or a court-appointed guardian who is responsible for making important decisions on behalf of the conservatee, such as managing their assets, paying their bills, and ensuring that they receive proper medical care.

Any skilled conservatorship attorney will tell you that conservatorship is typically necessary when a person is no longer able to care for themselves or make important decisions due to advanced age, physical or mental disability, or illness.

Different types of conservatorships

First of all, you should know the difference between guardianship and conservatorship. To summarize, guardianship is related to personal and medical decision-making, while conservatorship is related to financial decision-making. Guardianship and conservatorship are both legal arrangements where a person is appointed to take care of another individual.

There are different types of conservatorships, which vary depending on the type and extent of the conservatee’s limitations:

1. General conservatorship: A general conservatorship is a type of conservatorship for adults who are unable to care for themselves or manage their finances due to age, illness, injury, or disability. A general conservator is appointed by the court to manage the conservatee’s personal and financial affairs.

2. Limited conservatorship: A limited conservatorship is similar to a general conservatorship but is designed for individuals who are developmentally disabled, as opposed to those who are physically or mentally incapacitated. A limited conservatorship only grants the conservator control over certain aspects of the conservatee’s life, such as medical and financial decisions.

3. LPS conservatorship: An LPS conservatorship is a type of conservatorship that is used in cases involving individuals who are gravely disabled due to mental illness. The term LPS stands for “Lanterman-Petris-Short,” which refers to a California law that governs mental health commitments.

4. Temporary conservatorship: A temporary conservatorship is a type of conservatorship that is established to provide temporary care and protection to an individual who is in immediate danger, but only until a general or limited conservatorship can be established.

Steps involved in establishing a conservatorship

The steps involved in establishing conservatorship may vary depending on the state where it is being established. However, some general steps involved in establishing conservatorship include:

1. Filing a petition: The person interested in becoming a conservator must file a petition in court requesting conservatorship. This may require providing information such as the type of conservatorship being sought, reasons for seeking conservatorship, the financial status of the conservatee, etc.

2. Notifying all interested parties: The court will require that all interested parties, including the conservatee, family members, and relevant government agencies, are notified about the conservatorship hearing.

3. Investigation: The court may require an investigation into the proposed conservator’s background, criminal record, credit history, and finances.

4. Court hearing: The court will conduct a hearing where the conservator must demonstrate that the conservatee needs a conservator and that the proposed conservator is capable of handling the responsibility.

5. Appointment of a conservator: If the court approves the conservatorship, a conservator will be appointed to manage the conservatee’s finances and other aspects of their life.

The role of a conservator

A conservator is appointed by the court to manage the financial and/or personal affairs of a person who is unable to do so themselves. The role of the conservator is to act in the best interest of the protected person, making decisions about their finances, property, and personal care.

The conservator has a fiduciary duty to act honestly, prudently, and in good faith, and must keep accurate records and make regular reports to the court. The conservator may be responsible for paying bills, managing investments, and making decisions about medical treatment, housing, and other important matters.

The conservator may also have the power to make legal decisions on behalf of the protected person, such as filing lawsuits or settling disputes. The role of a conservator is a serious responsibility that should be taken with the utmost care and consideration.

Wrapping up

Conservatorship is a legal arrangement that can help protect people who are unable to care for themselves.

It can be a difficult and emotional process, but it is an important tool for ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals. If you are considering seeking conservatorship for yourself or a loved one, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

You might have many questions at this point. Does a conservatorship end at death? What is the ideal plan of action for me? And so on. Often, consulting with an attorney will give you a clear idea about how to proceed. Furthermore, it will also allow you to find out any weaknesses in your case or claim.

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