People who are unable to make financial, medical and other decisions in their own best interest are some of the more vulnerable citizens that wills and probate laws cover. They may be eligible for a general or limited conservatorship, where a trusted party is responsible for some or all of their financial and other life decisions.
When a Person Needs a Conservator
California state law recognizes the power it can grant when it provides one person with the sole responsibility over key monetary and healthcare decisions for someone else. As a result, Los Angeles probate courts will frequently deny applications unless a grantor, the person governed by the conservatorship is:
- Disabled enough that they cannot adequately communicate their choices regarding treatments and other options;
- Aged enough that it will be unclear to officials that they are making sound choices regarding financial needs like bills and asset management; or
- Dealing with an illness that frequently impacts their state of mind such as substance use disorder or dementia or otherwise affects their communication and decision-making.
Our conservatorship attorneys at stone and sallus and our experience working with these cases enables us to help families understand the complexity of the process and the procedures you need to follow in order to have success. We are also used to handling conservatorship for the purpose of establishing or fighting against a convervatorship based on the wellbeing and capabilities of various parties involved in the process.
How a Conservatorship Works and What a Conservator Does
Finding the right ways to care for a loved one who is no longer able to do so themselves requires understanding the various legal options available. For many people, this can start with setting up advanced directives that outline guidance for medical decisions if a person is indisposed to making them for whatever reason. In addition, someone might also set up a durable power of attorney that allows them to make certain decisions on behalf of a party who has difficulty communicating their own needs.
Issues arise with both of these scenarios, however. At the time of an accident or a significant cognitive decline, it is up to the person holding these documents to prove their relationship to the party in stressful hospital situations. In addition, there can be headaches setting up paying bills, selling assets and other needs that can arise over the normal course of life.
A conservatorship allows for a single person to handle either the estate or the business of a person’s care, following a court hearing and investigation. A conservatorship attorney is often hired to assist with preparing the documentation needed to demonstrate that there are no legal alternatives that ensure the wellbeing of a person and their assets.
While a conservatorship must be renewed every year to minimize the risks of malfeasance or harm, the responsibilities of a conservator are still significant. They are legally required to make healthcare choices on someone else’s behalf, apprise everyone else in the family of any issues regarding finances as well as handle all business decisions and personal bills of that person, depending on the type of relationship approved by the court.
The kinds of medical conditions that lead to consulting with a conservatorship attorney can be difficult to discuss. Differentiating between issues such as developmental disabilities, mental health disorders and other types of limiting illnesses is very important, however. There are two levels of conservatorship: general and limited.
Types of Conservatorship: General, Limited and More
This page has mostly covered the general conservatorship, where one person approved by Los Angeles County Court manages the medical decisions (conservatorship of the person), financial decisions (conservatorship of the estate) or both based on serious impairment due to accidents in the young or conditions like dementia in the elderly.
California state law also recognizes another group of people who can benefit from assistance with their affairs: developmentally delayed minors who may still be able to play a role in their life choices, both in terms of finances as well as healthcare decisions and treatment options. A conservatorship attorney is often consulted in circumstances like these by parents of such individuals, where they can establish the process for a limited conservatorship if the parent or guardian became unable to provide care themselves.
Speak with Our Los Angeles Conservatorship Attorney
At Stone and Sallus, we understand from experience that deciding on the best care plan for an individual now or in the future is an emotionally fraught process made harder when money and the court system is involved. Our lawyers have years of experience working to draft concrete and effective documents for power of attorney, advanced directives and the application process for conservatorship.
If you or a loved one have concerns about ensuring the continuity of care for someone in your family, contact a Los Angeles conservatorship attorney today to review the facts of your legal needs. We’ll provide a complimentary and confidential consultation that outlines what processes make the most sense, their costs, and how you can help your family maintain legal rights during the most difficult times.