Conservatorships are established by the court so that an adult, the conservatee, who is incapable of taking care of himself/herself due to mental and/or physical inability to understand and thus make decisions over personal care and/or finances can be protected. This is done by appointing a conservator who has the authority to make such decisions on the conservatee’s behalf to ensure that the conservatee is not taken advantaged of. Court appointed conservators are usually spouses, domestic parts or family members whom the court deems will act in the conservatee’s best interest.
There are various types of conservatorships, depending on the needs of the conservatee being protected. For people with disabilities, the type of conservatorship depends on the severity of the disability. Limited conservatorships are specifically for adults with developmental disabilities, however in severe cases where the adult requires much more care, general conservatorships may be used.
The process of establishing a conservatorship begins with the completion and filing of forms with the local Probate Court (certain forms may vary by court). In most cases, the person petitioning to become another’s conservator will hire an attorney to complete the process for them, but it is possible to complete the process on one’s own. Copies of the filed forms must then be served (given) to the proposed conservatee’s close family members and the proposed conservatee himself/herself (Note that servicing of the forms may not be completed by the petitioner). After filing the forms, the court clerk will schedule a hearing and assign a case number. Before the hearing, a court investigator will interview the proposed conservatee and report back to the court. The hearing is then held to determine whether a conservatorship is indeed necessary and if so, who the appointed conservator will be (if more than one petitioner). Once the conservatorship is established, the conservator will be issued a filed copy of the Letters of Conservatorship, which specifies what the conservator is authorized to do on behalf on the conservatee. The court investigator will continue to conduct periodic investigations to ensure the conservatee is being properly taken care of after the conservatorship is in place.
For those with low income or SSI, a fee waiver may be granted by the court by filling out the appropriate form and filing with the court.
For further details, information on courts in your area and forms, visit the court webpage for your county and/or consult the California Conservatorship Handbook.
Conservatorships in California: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-conservatorship.htm
California Conservatorship Handbook: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/conservatorship_handbook.pdf
Los Angeles County:
-Probate Page (w/ locations): http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/probate/
-Conservatorship Page: http://www.occourts.org/directory/probate/probate-case-types/conservatortship.html
-Court Locations: http://www.occourts.org/locations/
San Bernardino County:
-Conservatorship Page: http://www.sb-court.org/Divisions/Probate/Conservatorship.aspx
-Court Locations: http://www.sb-court.org/Locations.aspx
For more locations: http://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm