A conservatorship can grant you or another adult the legal authority to make decisions for your loved one. The courts must approve conservatorships through a legal proceeding, which is why we recommended hiring a conservatorship lawyer to help you navigate the process.
We address these questions and more in the following guide to conservatorships. Contact our team at Keystone Law Group for more information.
A conservatorship is a court case in which a judge appoints a responsible person (called a “conservator”) to protect adults who cannot care for themselves (called “conservatees”). Anyone can start a conservatorship case.
In some states, a conservatorship is also known as a guardianship. Although in California, a guardianship refers to proceedings for minors.
When it becomes apparent that your loved one can no longer care for their own health or finances, it is crucial to protect them by gaining control of the situation. The best way to do that is through a conservatorship, which is granted through your state probate court.
Perhaps a loved one has dementia or suffered a stroke, causing them to be unable to communicate or make informed decisions. Will they remember to take their medication? Will they show up to their doctor appointments? Will they pay their bills on time? A conservatorship attorney can help you get answers to these questions.
Unfortunately, it is possible that the person acting as your loved one’s power of attorney, trustee or conservator is taking advantage of them. Are they kept isolated from other family members? Are their finances being kept a secret? Or worse, are their assets being stolen?
Because a power of attorney or trust document contains the wishes of your loved one prior to their incapacitation, it can be difficult to override in court without help from a skilled conservatorship lawyer. If compelling reasons are presented for why your loved one would benefit from a conservatorship, the judge may choose to grant one.
Perhaps someone is challenging your right to act as an adult’s power of attorney or trustee through a conservatorship. Or maybe, family members cannot agree on who will take care of a loved one in need of a conservatorship. How will the court decide whether a conservatorship is appropriate or who should be appointed as the conservator?
Family disagreements are at the heart of many conservatorship cases. A conservatorship attorney can help resolve these kinds of disputes or litigate on behalf of one side if an agreement cannot be reached.
You’ve been appointed conservator of your loved one. What’s next? Can you rent or sell their home? Do you need to move them into an assisted living facility? Is it required for you to obtain the judge’s permission for every decision you make on their behalf? How much compensation can you receive?
As a conservator, you are responsible for the life of another. You must be clear about what your duties to them are and fulfill them to the best of your abilities. Otherwise, legal action can be taken against you. A conservatorship attorney can serve as an excellent resource for conservators who need help.
There can be many parties involved in conservatorships. At Keystone, our conservatorship lawyers can assist those listed below.
A conservator is a person appointed by the court to make financial and/or medical decisions on behalf of the conservatee.
A private professional fiduciary is a licensed third-party professional who can be appointed as conservator when family dynamics make it difficult to appoint family members. Like all conservators, professional fiduciaries are legally required to make decisions that are in the conservatee’s best interest.
A person grants financial or medical power of attorney to another adult (called an attorney-in-fact) through a legal document they signed when they were mentally competent. If you are an attorney-in-fact, the power of attorney document may defeat the need for a conservatorship, or you may have priority to act as the conservator.
If an adult has a trust, the trustee is the person responsible for managing the trust’s assets. A trust document can defeat the need for a conservatorship of the estate, or the trustee may have priority to act as the conservator.
Keystone is proud to offer a variety of conservatorship services to all types of clients. Our conservatorship attorneys are well-versed in every aspect of the law, and they will work their hardest to obtain for you the outcome you want. Below, you can see some recent examples that demonstrate the types of conservatorship cases we handle on a regular basis.
When our client learned that her elderly mother with advanced Alzheimer’s disease was being kept inside a home that she suspected to be a hotbed of COVID-19 cases, she reached out to Keystone to see if anything could be done to get her out of there.
Not only was the mother habitually in the presence of family members with visible symptoms of the virus, but her own caretaker, who provided her with her medicine and food, also showed symptoms and was caring for her without wearing the recommended protective equipment, i.e., masks and gloves. The client wanted to immediately remove her mother from the residence and into her home.
Because the mother’s living situation posed a clear and immediate threat to her health and overall safety, our conservatorship attorneys were able to secure a temporary conservatorship for the client over her mother. The mother now resides safely inside the client’s home, has a licensed caretaker with the proper protective gear, and is in higher spirits and better health than before.
In this instance, a temporary conservatorship may have quite literally saved the mother’s life.
A client reached out to us upon learning that her brother was heavily sedated and unconscious after suffering a heart attack. He would likely need further medical procedures, possibly even a heart transplant, but he was not married, nor did he have any estate planning documents indicating who should make medical or financial decisions for him.
It was urgent for our client to gain temporary conservatorship over her brother to ensure he received the treatment he needed. Our conservatorship lawyers worked fast to have one approved within two days.
Not only did a temporary conservatorship help our client make life-saving health care decisions on her brother’s behalf, but it also helped our client ensure that her brother did not suffer any serious financial losses during his incapacitation, since he managed several rental properties and had health and life insurance policies that needed to be paid to avoid gaps in coverage.
Thankfully, the client’s brother fully recovered, eliminating the need for a permanent conservatorship.
“Seeing the difference already in this short term tells us more and more of the horrible sentence that she was serving under my brother’s care. It was almost as if a terrible decree was lifted.
May you see infinite blessings with your own families and be rewarded for the good that you do for others. You are spectacular people. I am infinitely grateful and forever indebted.”
“I felt secure, and all of my questions were met with quick, detailed and overly adequate responses. Planned and precise. Above and beyond. I gave him my full control and confidence. Happy with the outcome and glad to have gotten a great deal of my own experience while going through all of this.”
“BEST LAW FIRM. Two years ago, I emailed Keystone Law Group regarding several family estate matters. My attorney at that time was discouraging me for reasons that did not make sense. I knew what was happening to me was wrong and could not just let it go. The following day, after speaking with Keystone, my current attorney was released and Keystone Law became my counsel. It was the best decision I made.”
Keystone Law Group’s team is extraordinarily well-versed in probate law, and every conservatorship attorney at our firm can navigate even the most complex cases with ease. We’re proud to serve the state of California, and we work hard to assist residents with conservatorship services and other probate matters. Learn more about our firm below.
Our attorneys practice exclusively in probate law. This singular focus enables us to be experts in our field to better serve you.
Our conservatorship lawyers can help obtain a conservatorship, contest a conservatorship, litigate conservatorship matters, and provide guidance to conservators. Significant accomplishments by members of our team include:
We are a California conservatorship practice. We regularly serve:
If your conservatorship matter is in California, but you do not see your county on the list above, we may still be able to offer you our conservatorship services.
In our Conservatorship FAQ section, you can find answers to many of the common questions we hear from clients. If you don’t see your question here, don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we can assist you.
The total fees come down to whether a conservatorship is contested or uncontested.
Contested conservatorships can get costly and are usually charged at an attorney’s hourly rate. Uncontested conservatorships often cost significantly less. Depending on the case, you may be able to hire our conservatorship lawyers without paying any money up front.
A permanent conservatorship is generally reserved for individuals who have suffered a significant decline in their mental or physical capacities and are no longer able to take care of themselves or make informed decisions.
This type of conservatorship almost exclusively is granted for conditions that irreversibly impair mental function, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
In many states, like California, there is a difference between a guardian and conservator.
The term “conservator” refers to a third party appointed by the court to manage the person and/or finances of another adult, known as the “conservatee.” The term “guardian” refers to an adult who is appointed by the court to manage the person and/or finances of a minor, known as the “ward.”
A financial conservator is called a conservator of the estate. This person handles all financial matters that come up for the conservatee, such as paying taxes, bills and so forth.
A physical conservator is called a conservator of the person. This individual makes health care decisions on behalf of the conservatee and ensures the conservatee’s basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, are met.
People with mental illnesses who pose a danger to themselves or others and must be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility may need an LPS conservatorship.
Before the court appoints a conservator to manage a conservatee’s finances, the conservator usually must first obtain a conservatorship bond. A conservatorship bond is a kind of security deposit designed to safeguard conservatees’ assets in the event their conservator misuses them.
A conservator bank account pertains to financial conservatorships. It is a bank account containing the conservatee’s assets, which the appointed conservator must preserve and manage.
A conservator can hold a conservatorship sale with court confirmation to collect funds to pay for the conservatee’s personal, medical or other needs. Most states will not allow conservators to sell property without permission from the court.
It is important to keep in mind that conservators cannot sell a conservatee’s property for personal or financial gain. If they do, they risk legal retaliation.
As conservator, you will be compensated for the time you spend managing the conservatee’s affairs. How much a conservator gets paid depends on their credentials. Most non-professionals will earn between $25 and $75 per hour.
It is crucial for conservators to document their hours and take notes about what they did during those hours in case the court requests this information.
A conservator’s pay will usually come out of the conservatee’s finances, but many conservators, especially those who are family members or close friends of the conservatee, choose not to accept it.
Yes. Conservatee rights cannot be disregarded. Conservatorships are not set in stone, and it is possible to ask the court to modify or even terminate a conservatorship after one has been granted. You can hire a conservatorship attorney or have the court appoint one for you if you feel a conservatorship is unwarranted. You will have to prove that you are of sound state of mind and capable of making informed personal and financial decisions on your own.
Yes. You will need to file a petition with your state probate court. If, during the court proceeding, you provide ample evidence of the adult’s neurodegenerative condition, the judge may choose to grant you a probate conservatorship with dementia powers, which would give you special authority to authorize the use of psychotropic drugs to treat dementia and to place the conservatee in a locked facility designed for dementia patients.
Financial guardianships for elderly persons offer protection against fraud and undue influence. This type of legal arrangement gives you, or another trusted party appointed as conservator, the right to manage your loved one’s finances and ensure a third party is not abusing them financially.
While you can opt for a do-it-yourself conservatorship, we highly recommend hiring a conservatorship lawyer to help you navigate the probate process, which can be drawn-out and complicated.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may not be required to pay anything up front.
While every court is different, most courts take approximately five weeks to hear a conservatorship case after you have filed the initial petition.
If the proposed conservatee faces an immediate threat, the court can grant a temporary conservatorship to serve as a placeholder until it can hear the case for a general conservatorship.
The definition of conservatorship will vary from conservatee to conservatee since each conservatee will have different needs.
For example, a judge may determine that a limited conservatorship is appropriate for a functioning autistic adult, but that for an elderly parent with dementia, a general conservatorship – which gives the conservator the same level of legal authority that a parent has over their child – is more suitable. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conservatorships; their character and duration are based on the nature of each person’s disability.
Below is a breakdown of the main types of conservatorships available.
“Probate Conservatorship” is an umbrella term for court proceedings in which someone petitions the court for legal authority to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated adult. Probate conservatorships can be further designated as general, limited or temporary, depending on the specifics of the case.
LPS conservatorships are reserved for people suffering from serious mental health issues that make them a threat to themselves or others. Because a local government agency must initiate this type of conservatorship, you will need to reach out to your Public Conservator or Public Guardian.