As your child approaches 18, their high school IEP coordinator or another parent may have approached you about securing a limited conservatorship. This legal arrangement will endow a conservator with decision-making powers over your child’s life after becoming an adult. The great news is the legal system is just as passionate about your child’s wellbeing as the school system and created limited conservatorships to help them be successful in life.
You may be worried about the limited conservatorship powers a legal worker will have in your child’s life if you do not already have a child in a limited conservatorship. We understand your concern for them and will explain more about limited conservatorships so you can be at ease if you decide to petition the court for this legal solution.
Ultimately, we want to reassure you that whoever the judge appoints as conservator for your child will execute the best plan possible for your child to learn independence and make wise choices.
What are limited conservatorships?
While you may have heard about probate conservatorships for the mentally incapacitated and the elderly, legislators designed limited conservatorships with your child specifically in mind. Your son or daughter is eligible for lifetime legal assistance if they have developmental disabilities, or “a severe and chronic disability that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment that started before age 18”. Autism, epilepsy, and cerebral paulsy are a few examples of conditions your child can have that the courts accept for limited conservatorship.
There are two different types of conservators within limited conservatorships: conservators of the person and the estate, who hold specific powers over your child. For example, a limited conservator of their person would help them with daily routines and self-care, while a limited conservator of their estate would manage their finances and property.
Your child will receive individualized attention and support when a judge assigns them a conservator on the hearing date because he/she will assign only a person that meets your child’s needs.
How much power does a limited conservator have?
The reassuring element of limited conservatorships is that these programs will never grant limited conservators powers they do not need. In this way, they will not have access to every right your limited conservatee holds, so they can still be independent while living a happy life inside the safe boundaries a conservator will establish.
A limited conservator will never hold set powers over your child since their judge understands that every child and limited conservatorship case is unique. He/she will rule a list of legal authorities personalized to your child’s capabilities and weaknesses, so your child has room to grow in adult life skills.
The court’s order of appointment list and the Letters of Conservatorship document the conservator will send you detail every power they contain over your child so you will never have to figure it out.
What powers does a limited conservator of the person have?
In general, a limited conservator of the person conducts actions on your child’s behalf to benefit their overall wellbeing. The California Courts lays out the various rights available that a judge can grant to their limited conservator, including, but not limited to:
- Choose the home and living area for your child
- Access all your child’s confidential records and papers, such as medical documentation, reports, and mail
- Approve or disapprove social and sexual contacts, and petition for restraining orders
- Give consent or withhold consent for your child’s medical treatment
- Decide if and where your child pursues education
Unlike the tyrannical rule you hear about in hot media conservatorship stories, such as the ongoing Brittany Spears’ case, a limited conservatorship will help your child daily attain independence for normal living. They will get them involved in job training, counseling, social gatherings, and other beneficial programs (up to the judge’s discretion) that will transition your child into making decisions by themselves.
What powers does a limited conservator of the estate have?
While many judges will appoint a conservator of the person to children with developmental disabilities, your child may also require a limited conservator of the estate. This person’s legal duty is to manage your child’s income, assets, estates, and financial health. However, they are passionate about safeguarding your son or daughter’s current money and creating a financial plan that provides monetary security for the future.
Again, the California Courts explain the key powers a limited conservatorship of the estate would have in the official handbook for conservators:
- Partner with the conservator of the person/conservatee/caregiver to create your child a personalized budget
- List all of your child’s total assets and living trust for the court to see
- Take care of your child’s bills promptly through their conservatorship bank account, factoring in conservatorship fees (court investigator, attorney, and other related legal costs)
- Present financial records to yourself, the court, and other interested parties regarding their estates: incoming income, expenditures, and remaining conservatorship property
- Enroll your child into all government benefits and public assistance they are eligible, such as Supplemental Security Income
Powers Unique to Limited Conservatorships
The power to control contracts is a unique benefit to conservators of the person in limited conservatorships. However, probate conservatorships would usually grant this legal authority to the conservator of the estate since they already oversee your child’s finances. In essence, your son or daughter’s limited conservator can sign contracts that help them manage their property (if they own any) or make their estate bound under law.
We Advocate for Your Child’s Rights in Court
Limited conservatorships thrive as the next stepping stone for your child after an IEP program by training them to become independent and aiding them with everyday challenges. The judge will select a professional conservator who he/she has endowed a personalized list of powers to meet your child’s needs. You can relax knowing that someone as intentional and detailed as you is dedicated to learning your child daily and discovering their specific ticks, quirks, and needs.
Whether your child has autism, cerebral palsy, or another mental disability, our conservatorship lawyers can be of service. We have guided other special needs children and their parents through the limited conservatorship process and can explain it in a way they can understand. We want to prepare them for the first steps of their adult lives and set them up for success by advocating for their rights in court.
Our team would love to hear more about your child’s conservatorship needs and meet them in our office to establish a limited conservatorship. You and your child can set up a free consultation with one of our probate lawyers by calling us at (800).840.1998.