If you have an adult family member who can no longer provide safe and daily care for themselves, you understand how important it is for someone else to step in to help them. In California, this is a legal process called a conservatorship. A conservatorship is established by a judge when they determine an adult is incapacitated or unable to manage their lifestyle and financial affairs. They will appoint another person called a conservator to perform these duties on their behalf.

The probate courts in California handle conservatorships, and your petition for a loved one you know is struggling. It is critical for you to understand what types of conservatorships there are so you know which one is best for your family member or friend.

Order of Priority When Selecting a Conservator

After an official court hearing, a court order will set a California conservatorship in motion. The judge will review your petition, send a court investigator to confirm your claims, and bring everyone together to discuss how to help your loved one. Choosing who will be the responsible conservator for your family member or friend is a primary concern of that conservatorship court date. They will spend their money from a conservatorship bank account, decide their medical treatments, and assist them with anything else they require.

The judge will select your loved one’s conservator based on spousal priority and move down the list to adult children, parents, siblings, other interested persons, and government conservators. Probate code requires that courts select the conservator of their estate or person in that order.

Conservator of the Estate vs. Person

While there are different types of conservatorships for your loved one, they will all offer conservators for their estate, person, or both. These legal authorities will help your incapacitated adult in whatever ways they need assistance. Whoever the conservator is must act in the best interest of the proposed conservatee while taking away their rights when necessary.

For example, a conservator of the person allows for decisions about housing, clothing, and medical care. And conservators of the estate will invest, budget, and spend their money according to a conservatorship bank account they set up.

What Conservatorship Does My Loved One Need?

In California, understanding the different types of conservatorships available can significantly streamline the legal process and potentially reduce court fees and time spent in legal proceedings. The state recognizes several specific types of conservatorships, each designed to address the varied needs of individuals with conditions such as dementia, developmental disabilities, addiction, and other similar circumstances.

The most common types of conservatorships in California include:

  • Probate Conservatorships: These are general conservatorships that are usually established for adults who are unable to take care of themselves or manage their finances. They are often used for elderly people or those with severe physical or mental illnesses.
  • Limited Conservatorships: Tailored for adults with developmental disabilities who may need assistance in certain areas of life but can manage others. Limited conservatorships focus on providing help in specific areas where the conservatee lacks capacity.
  • Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships: These are used specifically for adults with severe mental health illnesses who require restricted living environments for their protection and require special care or treatment that they cannot or will not voluntarily accept.
  • Temporary Conservatorships: These are established quickly to provide immediate help and last only until a general conservatorship or LPS conservatorship can be put in place. They are typically used in urgent situations where immediate intervention is necessary to protect the individual in question.

When considering a conservatorship in California, it’s crucial to choose the type that best matches the needs and circumstances of the incapacitated adult to ensure their well-being and to efficiently navigate the legal system. Each type has specific criteria and procedures, so selecting the appropriate conservatorship can provide the necessary support more effectively.

Young and Old Adults

An attorney will often recommend you petition for a probate conservatorship (also called a general conservatorship) for most struggling adults. To put someone you care about in a probate conservatorship in California requires “clear and convincing evidence.” A general conservatorship may be appropriate if you have a senior member of your family who struggles with mental health issues. But it can also apply to younger people who have been seriously impaired, like in a car accident. Britany Spears is a popular example of probate conservatorships extending to young adults too.

Developmentally Disabled Adults

You can help your child under 18, who has developmental disabilities like down’s syndrome or autism, with decision-making via a limited conservatorship. They have full control over their choices once they become adults, so it is imperative you set one up sooner than later.

Whether they cannot care for their belongings, finances, or themselves, a limited conservator can assist with gaining independence. They have legal authority to act on their behalf when necessary while also allowing them freedoms they trust them to handle.

The Mentally Incapacitated

Bipolar disorder, alcoholism, and severe depression are all types of mental disorders that qualify your loved one for a Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship. The courts have legislated this intensive relationship between conservator and patient for adults that cannot provide their own food, clothing, and shelter.

Loved Ones in Dire Need

Conservatorships can take time to process through a county court, but some situations require immediate action to prevent your loved one from hurting themselves or other people. Temporary conservatorships are critical in emergency situations and last 30-60 days, which gives judges enough time to call everyone for an official conservatorship hearing.

The primary duties of a temporary conservator are arranging emergency care and protection while managing the conservatee. They are also required to protect the finances and property of the gravely disabled adult during this time.

Contact a California Conservatorship Attorney

You know first-hand that having someone in your life, which requires intervention for their well-being can cause anguish and despair. Whatever the reason for incapacitation, there are conservatorship solutions right for them that can help you relax.

We’ve worked with hundreds of clients who are unsure about which type of conservatorship fits best for their family members. Our skilled conservatorship attorneys are always available to hear about your loved one’s challenging situation and assess which legal route is best for supporting them.

No matter how complicated your legal circumstances are, we can answer any questions you have. We would be honored to have the opportunity to gain your trust and assist your loved one moving forward.

Call our law firm to help you and your loved one affected by daily personal and financial challenges, and schedule your first consultation at (800) 840-1998.