A conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a person is deemed to lack capacity to make medical or financial decisions. Once the person is deemed to lack this capacity, a conservator is appointed to manage the healthcare and financial decisions of the person, referred to as the conservatee. Conservatorships are complex matters. Conservatorships are ongoing legal matters that may last for years after the appointment of a conservator. There are three types of conservatorships in the State of California: General Conservatorship, Limited Conservatorship, and LPS Conservatorship. Our office can assist in the initial appointment of a conservator, maintaining a conservatorship (including completing accountings), and challenging conservatorships. Contact us today to see how we can help.
A general conservatorship is needed when a person becomes incapacitated without proper planning in place. Generally, a person can become incapacitated through illness, accident, or through the aging process. Once a person is deemed to lack capacity to make financial decisions or resist undue influence in making financial decisions, financial institutions will usually refuse to act unless there is an agent appointed by a power of attorney or a conservatorship of the estate in place. The same concept applies to medical decisions. Once a person is deemed to lack capacity to give informed medical consent, healthcare providers typically refuse to act without a healthcare agent in place (appointed by a durable power of attorney for healthcare) or a conservatorship of the person in place. General conservatorships are in place indefinitely and only end upon the death of the conservatee or upon recovery of the conservatee.
A limited conservatorship is for developmentally disabled individuals who have turned 18 or are about to turn 18. A developmental disability is defined as a disability that manifests itself by the time the individual is 18 years old, is severe, and is indefinite. A limited conservatorship is limited to the areas of power granted by the court. This is because the state wants the limited conservatee to live the best and most independent life possible. This means that the Court takes a least restrictive means approach to conservatorship. A conservator in a limited conservatorship may apply for power to act in the following seven areas:
- The authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the limited conservatee;
- The authority to access medical records of the limited conservatee;
- The authority to determine the residence of the limited conservatee;
- The authority to control the education or vocational training of the limited conservatee;
- The authority to control contracts entered into by the conservatee;
- The authority to keep a limited conservatee from marrying; and
- The authority to control the limited conservatee’s social contact.
LPS (Mental Health) Conservatorship
An individual who is greatly disabled by mental issues that can’t provide for their food, clothing, or support may be subject to an LPS conservatorship. An LPS Conservatorship needs to be initiated by a public guardian and, therefore, is not a matter that is handled by our office. An LPS Conservatorship lasts one year from the date of appointment and at that point may be challenged by the Conservatee in the matter.