woman holding elderly person's hand

woman signing paperworkIf you have a close family member that is incapable of taking care of themselves, it may be in your best interest to seek a conservatorship for that relative. A conservatorship is a court proceeding wherein a judge appoints a conservator. A conservator is a responsible person appointed by a probate judge to handle the personal, financial affairs, or both of the conservatee, who cannot care for himself or herself or handle his or her finances.

The two main kinds of conservatorships in California are general conservatorships and limited conservatorships. Limited Conservatorships are designed to help families with a developmentally disabled adult child.  General conservatorships are meant to help take care of the person and/or the estate of an adult who is unable to manage his or her own affairs.  Typically we see this when an elderly person is unable to resist financial elder abuse.

Court Appointed Conservator

Conservatorships are typically affiliated with older family members with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or severe physical disabilities. Nevertheless, conservatees can be from all different age groups and in any condition.

For instance, a probate court designed a conservatorship for a woman in her 30s, because of her substance abuse troubles. The women had physical and mental disabilities due to an overdose. The woman inherited a great deal of money from her late mother. While the woman had a husband, and also signed a durable power of attorney listing her husband as her agent, the woman’s aunt petitioned the court to appoint a conservator.

The husband opposed the conservatorship; however, evidence revealed that the husband wastefully spent his wife’s money and failed to get the appropriate medical care for her. Experts testified at court that the woman was incapable of making important medical decisions for herself. Although the women also opposed conservatorship, the judge agreed that conservatorship of her estate was required due to the circumstances. The court thought it would be best to name her aunt the conservator, because the husband also suffered from substance abuse problems and lacked the capability to be an administrator.

In this case, the judge appointed a responsible person, the woman’s aunt, to take care of her niece, because neither she nor the husband was capable of arranging for the proper medical or managing her finances. The judge thought it was necessary to appoint the aunt to protect the woman from her own husband’s mismanagement of the estate and ensure that she would receive necessary medical treatment. The aunt was granted a general conservatorship over both her niece and the estate.

Courts have a broad discretion of determining who is appointed as the conservator. Generally, courts will consider a spouse to serve as conservator first. However, the final decision is in the hands of the judge. Generally, the judge will do what is in the best interest of the conservatee and their estate, as the judge did in the above case.

Get the Assistance with Appointing a Conservator

If you have a family member that is unable to care for himself or herself, it is important to have a conservator appointed to handle the personal, financial affairs, or both. A knowledgeable and experienced Walnut Creek conservatorship attorney will help your family make the best possible decisions for your loved ones.

At Feldman Law Group, we will examine the unique situation of your family member, discuss both your requirements and objectives and work hard to decide what type of conservatorship is best. Contact us today online to discuss more about your family member’s conservatorship needs.


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