If an adult loved one cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances, a conservatorship may be an option for you. A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a person or organization (the “conservator”) to care for another adult (the “conservatee”).
Some alternatives to a conservatorship for a person who needs assistance with medical and personal care decisions: Advance Health Care Directive; court authorization for medical treatment; informal personal care arrangements; and restraining orders to protect against harassment.
Alternatives to a conservatorship for a person who needs assistance with financial decisions include: power of attorney; a substitute payee for public benefits (like veterans’ benefits or social security benefits); informal arrangements; joint title on bank accounts or other property; and living trusts.
There are different types of conservatorships depending on the needs of the conservatee:
1. Probate Conservatorships:
are the most common type of conservatorship. There are two types:
- General Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. These conservatees are often elderly people, but can also be younger people who have been seriously injured.
- Limited Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their finances. Conservatees in limited conservatorships require less help that conservatees in general conservatorships.
If the person needs immediate help, the court may appoint a temporary conservator until a general conservator can be appointed. The main duties of a temporary conservator are arranging for the temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee, and protecting the conservatee’s finances and property.
2. Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships:
LPS conservatorships are used to care for adults with serious mental health illnesses who need special care and usually need very restrictive living arrangements and require extensive mental health treatment.
The court can appoint a conservator of the person, a conservator of the estate, or both, depending on the person’s needs.
- A conservator of the person is responsible for making sure that the conservatee has proper food, clothing, shelter, and health care.
- A conservator of the estate handles the conservatee’s financial matters including paying bills and collecting their income.
If someone wants to be conservator of the person and the estate, they must petition the court to be appointed as both. If someone is a conservator of the person and later decides that he or she needs to be appointed as conservator of the estate, he or she can file a new petition for conservatorship and, this time, request to be appointed as conservator of the estate.
A conservatorship may not be needed in certain circumstances. Norbert U. Frost is an experienced conservatorship attorney who can advise you if your family is confronted with the unfortunate circumstances when a relative needs assistance.
Call (707) 553-7356 or fill out the form on our Contact page to schedule your consultation.