Understanding conservatorships in California

When an adult is not able to care for him or herself or manage his or her own finances, it may be necessary to consider a conservatorship. Through the conservatorship process, a court can appoint a person or organization to care for him or her.

Types of conservatorship

In California, there are two types of conservatorship to consider. A general conservatorship is for a person who cannot care for themselves or their finances. The person is called a conservatee.

A limited conservatorship is for a person who has developmental disabilities and cannot care for themselves or their finances, but does not require the higher level of care needed in a general conservatorship. Also, in situations where there is an immediate need for a conservator, a court may appoint a person or organization to act temporarily.

Conservatorship process

The person or organization that would like to pursue conservatorship must file a petition with the court explaining why they believe the conservatorship is necessary. The potential conservatee must be notified and a court investigator will talk to him or her and other people, like family or friends, who may familiar with the need for conservatorship.

The court may appoint a conservator of the person, a conservator of the estate or both, depending on the person’s needs. A conservator of the person ensures that the conservatee has appropriate shelter, food, clothing and health care. In some situations, the conservator of the person may also make medical decisions for the conservatee.

A conservator of the estate oversees the person’s financial matters, like collecting his or her income and paying bills. Both types of conservators are required to provide periodic reports to the court.

An experienced attorney can provide guidance and advice about the conservatorship process.