For an adult child, it can be heart-wrenching to watch a parent succumb to the physical and mental deterioration that often accompanies the aging process. If you find yourself in that position, and you have reached the point where you are genuinely concerned for your mother’s safety, it may be time to consider petitioning for conservatorship. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, a Riverside conservatorship lawyer explains what it means to become your mother’s conservator and how the process of petitioning for conservatorship works.
What Is a Conservatorship?
In California, if a court determines that an adult is unable to manage his or her affairs (finances, assets, and estate) and/or make decisions for himself or herself, the court will appoint a Conservator. California recognizes both a Conservatorship of the Person and a Conservatorship of the Estate. A Conservatorship of the Person is established when an adult is unable to care for his or her personal and health care needs, such as maintaining regular hygiene and taking prescribed medication. A Conservator of the Person will be responsible for protecting the adult and will have the authority to make personal decisions for the adult, such as where he or she will live. A Conservatorship of the Estate is established when an adult cannot handle financial matters. A Conservator is appointed to manage the adult’s income and pay bills and may have authority to do things such as sell property or encumber assets owned by the adult. The Conservator of the Person and Conservator of the Estate can be the same person or different ones.
How Do I Become My Mother’s Conservator?
Deciding to become your mother’s Conservator is never an easy decision to make. Consulting with an experienced Riverside conservatorship lawyer is always a wise step to take before making the decision. If the attorney agrees that a Conservator is necessary, the first step in the process is to initiate the court process required to become your mother’s Conservator by preparing the necessary petition.
Your mother, as well as others entitled to notice of the petition (usually close family members), may object to the appointment of a conservator. In this event, the Probate Court will appoint an attorney to represent you mother and it is possible that either the conservatorship will be dismissed, a settlement can be sought through mediation, or a trial will occur to determine whether the conservatorship is necessary and who should serve as Conservator.
Because conservatorship is the most restrictive option, a court must review your petition and make a judicial determination that a Conservator is, indeed, necessary in order to protect your parent. The court will usually appoint an investigator whose job is to help the court decide if a conservator is necessary. To do that, the investigator will speak to your mother, if possible, and explain the petition. The investigator may also review medical records and/or speak to family members before preparing a report for the court. A hearing will eventually be scheduled at which time the court will allow you to present evidence and testimony supporting your request for the appointment of a conservator and allow anyone who objects to a conservator to present their evidence. After considering the petition and evidence presented at the hearing the court will decide if a conservator is warranted.
If it is decided that a conservator is needed, the court will then consider your request to become the Conservator. Courts typically look first to a close family member when a Conservator is needed, increasing the likelihood that your petition will be approved if everything is in order. If the court grants your petition, the court will explain the bounds of your authority over your parent and/or your parent’s estate based on what the court determines is necessary. You might be appointed to be the Conservator of the Person only, the Conservator of the Estate only, or both. In addition, the court can limit your authority as either type of conservator. Once appointed to be your mother’s conservator, you will remain under the court’s jurisdiction and be required to report to the court on a regular basis.
Contact a Riverside Conservatorship Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the decision to pursue conservatorship over your mother, or about the process for becoming a conservator, contact the experienced Riverside conservatorship attorneys at Dennis M. Sandoval, A Professional Law Corporation by calling (951) 888-1460 to schedule an appointment.