Few things in life are more heart-wrenching than watching a parent’s physical or mental deterioration. For an adult child it can be extremely difficult to accept that the strong, capable parent you once knew is now at a point where he or she cannot safely care for himself or himself or make decisions. If you find yourself facing this reality, it may be time to consider a conservatorship. The Riverside conservatorship attorneys at Sandoval Legacy Group explain how you legally become a conservator.
What Is Conservatorship?
Many states call the legal process where a person is appointed to care for the personal needs or manage the finances on an incapacitated adult a guardianship. But, in the State of California, guardianships of adults is referred to as a “conservatorship.” Both terms refer to the same legal concept. Conservatorship is a legal relationship whereby a person or organization takes over the legal responsibility for making decisions and/or managing the finances of another adult who can no longer do so for him or herself. The State of California designates two primary types of conservators:
- Conservator of the Person – this type of conservator is responsible for the conservatee’s care and protection. Along with deciding where the conservatee will live, this type of conservator is also responsible for things such as health care, food, clothing, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, and recreation.
- Conservator of the Estate – this type of conservator is responsible for things such as managing finances, locating and controlling assets, collecting income, paying bills, creating a budget, investing money, and protecting assets for the conservatee.
You may potentially become the conservator of the person, the conservator of the estate, or both, depending on the senior’s needs and abilities.
Can I File for Conservatorship in California?
In California, any adult—including the proposed conservatee,—can petition the court for a conservatorship. In fact, it is not uncommon for more than one person to petition the court for conservatorship over the same individual. When that happens, the court must use the “best interest of the proposed conservatee” standard to decide who should be the conservator in much the same way a judge makes custody decisions regarding a minor child. If the proposed conservatee has nominated someone and has the requisite mental capacity, the court will honor that nomination unless there is a good reason not to do so. If the proposed conservatee has not expressed a preference, and more than one person petitions the court to become conservator, the order of preference is as follows:
- Spouse or domestic partner
- Adult child
- Any other person the law says is okay
- Public Guardian
What Are the Steps Required to Become a Conservator?
It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced conservatorship attorney if you are contemplating the need to become a conservator. An attorney can help you analyze your options and determine if conservatorship is the best option. If you do decide to proceed, common steps in the conservatorship process include:
- Filing the petition with the appropriate probate court in the county where the proposed conservatee is a resident.
- Officially notifying the proposed conservatee (person who cannot manage his or her affairs) and ALL of his or her close relatives that you are seeking conservatorship over the person.
- If anyone opposes the conservatorship, they may notify the court of that opposition and the reasons for it. Read more about Conservator Contests
- Court investigator will initiate an investigation that includes talking to the proposed conservatee and other persons who might be able to help decide if a conservator is needed.
- The court will set the matter for a hearing at which you may present evidence backing up your claim that a conservator is needed. You will also need to convince the court that less restrictive alternatives to conservatorship will not be sufficient to prevent harm. Anyone opposed to the conservatorship may also present testimony/evidence at the hearing.
- The court then decides if a conservator is need and, if so, whether you should be appointed.
Contact a Riverside Conservatorship Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about becoming your father’s guardian, contact an experienced Riverside conservatorship attorney at Sandoval Legacy Group by calling (951) 888-1460 to schedule an appointment.
Have a question? Ask Dennis.