Watching a loved one suffer from alcohol or drug addiction is challenging. It’s hard to make someone seek help for addiction when they don’t want to help themselves.

Fortunately, California allows family members of people suffering from addictions to seek a conservatorship. This type of legal arrangement has certain limitations. However, a conservatorship is a great tool to help people suffering from substance abuse get the help they need.

What is a conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a legal arrangement. Under a conservatorship, a judge appoints a conservator to care for someone who can’t make decisions about their well-being.
A conservator of the estate is responsible for decisions about financial matters about the conservatee’s money. A conservator of the person is responsible for providing care, including making health decisions for the conservatee.

Conservatorships can be used for older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Limited conservatorships are used for younger adults who are developmentally disabled and need help navigating life.

In California, family members can also petition the court for an LPS conservatorship. This type of conservatorship allows the conservator to make health decisions for someone who suffers from severe mental illness. California courts recognize chronic alcoholism as an appropriate illness for an LPS conservatorship.

How can an LPS conservator help someone with an addiction?

An LPS conservator oversees the health care of someone who cannot make these decisions for themselves.

LPS conservators are responsible for finding appropriate medical treatment and mental health treatment. For someone suffering from chronic alcoholism, an LPS conservator may need to find a proper rehabilitation center and arrange for treatment.

An LPS conservator may also be responsible for making financial decisions for their charge while they are unable to.

Conservators should keep a record of each financial decision, even if it’s something simple like paying off a credit card. Courts will review the financial records to make sure the conservator isn’t taking advantage of their position.

How to get a conservatorship for a drug addict in California

California courts have put in strict guidelines for when someone can be placed under the care of a conservatorship. It’s easy for conservators to take advantage of their position and abuse the person they are supposed to protect.

As a family member, you can’t recommend your loved one for an LPS conservatorship at any time. Instead, if your loved one is at risk of harming themselves, you need to speak with a mental health professional. The professional can place them under a psychiatric hold for up to 72 hours.

At the end of the hold, the professional can make a conservation recommendation to the local Office of the Public Guardian. The Office of the Public Guardian will then ask the court for a temporary mental health conservatorship. Temporary conservatorships only last for 30 days. If you want to set up an LPS conservatorship for your loved one, it’s important to act quickly.

At this point, you can file a petition and a request for conservatorship with the local court. If you want to be the conservator, you’ll need to prove that you’re capable of doing the job. The judge needs to make sure you have the time and ability to provide care for your loved one.

Once you file the paperwork, you’ll get a date for a court hearing. You’ll need to send notice to your loved one of the hearing. The judge will review all the documents. He or she will decide whether there should be a conservatorship, and who should be the conservator.

If the court orders a conservatorship, the judge will review the situation every year. If the person under the conservatorship shows significant improvement, the judge can remove the conservatorship.

A note about minors and rehab

In California, parents have the right to make decisions for their children until they turn 18. If your minor child suffers from substance abuse, you don’t need to petition the court for a conservatorship. Instead, you’ll have the right to send them to rehab to get the help they need.


Conservatorships can be tricky to understand, establish, and maintain. It takes time and care to do the paperwork the right way. Our team of experienced conservatorship attorneys can help you at each step along the way.