Conservatorships Can Help Protect Your Adult Loved Ones

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.


  • What do you do when a loved one starts to lose competence?
  • What if they don’t have estate planning documents designating someone trustworthy to manage their medical care or finances?
  • Is it possible to protect them against fraud and undue influence while ensuring their health care needs are met?

 

We address these questions and more in the following guide to conservatorships. Contact our team at Keystone Law Group for more information.

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Defintion

What Is a Conservatorship?

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.

What We Do

Why Do You Need a Conservatorship Lawyer?

Conservatorship cases exist on a wide spectrum. You may need a conservatorship attorney to help you get a conservator appointed for a vulnerable adult or to help you oppose a conservatorship proceeding you feel is unwarranted. If you are an appointed conservator, you may need help navigating complex conservatorship laws. Below are some of the kinds of conservatorship matters Keystone handles.

Obtaining a Conservatorship

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.

Stopping Abuse

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.

Contesting Conservatorships

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.

Counseling Conservators

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.

Who We Help

Who Our Conservatorship Attorneys Represent

There can be many parties involved in conservatorships. At Keystone, our conservatorship lawyers can assist those listed below.

Conservator

A conservator is a person appointed by the court to make financial and/or medical decisions on behalf of the conservatee.

Keystone represents:

  • Proposed conservators petitioning for a conservatorship over another adult
  • Appointed conservators needing guidance about their responsibilities and obligations to the conservatee
  • Appointed conservators litigating against a third party on behalf of a conservatee
  • Appointed conservators defending against conservatorship abuse claims
Conservators
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Private Professional Fiduciary

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.

Keystone represents:

  • Private professional fiduciaries acting as conservators who need guidance about their responsibilities and obligations to the conservatee
  • Private professional fiduciaries acting as conservators litigating against a third party on behalf of a conservatee
  • Private professional fiduciaries acting as conservators defending against conservatorship abuse claims
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Power of Attorney

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.

Keystone represents:

  • Power of attorneys seeking to obtain a conservatorship over the adult for whom they are attorney-in-fact
  • Power of attorneys opposing conservatorships on behalf of the adult for whom they are attorney-in-fact
  • Power of attorneys defending claims of abuse brought by the appointed conservator of the adult for whom they are attorney-in-fact
Power of Attorney
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Trustee

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 represents:

  • Trustees seeking to obtain a conservatorship over an incapacitated trustor
  • Trustees opposing a proposed conservatorship on behalf of the incapacitated trustor
  • Trustees litigating against an appointed conservator on behalf of an incapacitated trustor, i.e., the conservatee
  • Trustees defending claims of financial misconduct brought against them by an appointed conservator
Trustees
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Our Work

Case Studies of Our Conservatorship Services

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.

Temporary Conservatorship Saves Mother Amid COVID-19

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.

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Temporary Conservatorship of an Unconscious Patient

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.

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Our Clients

Testimonials for Our Conservatorship Services

"I just have no words to express my gratitude for what you have done for our lives. It is a miracle of immeasurable proportions. You have truly acted to save my mother's life."

“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.”

Dina |
Conservator
"I had done a bit of my own research and scouted around 10 separate probate groups before finding Keystone."

“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.”

Shawn |
Heir
“This is a law firm I will not hesitate to refer to anyone."

“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.”

Stacey |
Spouse
About Us

Our Conservatorship Firm

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 Conservatorship Attorneys

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:

  • Have been designated as certified specialists in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization)
  • Have spoken on probate topics for attorneys, CPAs and other professionals
  • Taught wills and trusts to law students
  • Have been regularly recognized by attorney publications such as Super Lawyers Magazine, Best Lawyers and Daily Journal
  • Our Managing Partner, Shawn Kerendian, has been qualified to act on behalf of incapacitated adults as court-appointed counsel and guardian-ad-litem, which is reserved for only the most experienced conservatorship lawyers
Locations We Serve

We are a California conservatorship practice. We regularly serve:

  • Los Angeles County
  • Riverside County
  • Ventura County
  • Orange County
  • San Bernardino County
  • San Diego County

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Conservatorship FAQs

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.

How Much Does a Conservatorship Attorney Cost?

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.

What is a Permanent Conservatorship?

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.

What is the Difference Between a Conservator and a Guardian?

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.”

What Do You Call a Financial Conservator?

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.

What Do You Call a Physical Conservator?

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.

What Kind of Conservatorship is Needed for Someone with a Mental Illness?

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.

What is a Conservatorship Bond?

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.

What is a Conservator Bank Account?

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.

Can a Conservator Sell Property?

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.

How Much Compensation Can a Conservator Receive?

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.

I am Conserved and Don't Think I Need to Be. Can I Dispute 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.

Are Adults with Dementia Eligible for a Conservatorship?

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.

I am Afraid my Elderly Loved One is Being Taken Advantage of Financially. How Can I Help?

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.

Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer to Become Another's Conservator?

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.

How Long Before the Court Hears My Case for a Conservatorship?

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.

Types of Conservatorships

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 Conservatorships

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.

General Conservatorship
  • Gives a person full control over an incapacitated adult’s personal and/or financial affairs
  • The court can appoint a “conservator of the person,” who is tasked with managing all of the conservatee’s medical and personal needs, and/or a “conservator of the estate,” who is tasked with managing the conservatee’s finances
  • Prioritizing and handling creditor claims
  • Typically used for elderly persons with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or another form of impaired cognition
Limited Conservatorship
  • Designed for developmentally disabled persons whose limitations prevent them from caring for themselves or their property in certain ways
  • Protects disabled persons while also preserving their self-reliance
  • Like a general conservatorship, the court can appoint a limited conservator of the person and/or a limited conservator of the estate
  • Typically used for adults with autism, Down syndrome or other special needs
Temporary Conservatorship
  • Granted by the court on an emergency basis in cases where the proposed conservatee faces an imminent threat
  • Can be granted for a general or limited conservatorship
  • Active for a limited amount of time
  • Sometimes serves as a placeholder until the court can hear a case for a permanent conservatorship
  • Typically used for persons who have become suddenly incapacitated due to a stroke, coma or other medical issue, or those who face a threat of imminent harm to their person or finances

LPS Conservatorships

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.

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Find California Conservatorship Services Today

To find a conservatorship attorney who can help with your situation, contact Keystone Law Group. Our probate firm has all the resources and know-how to get the job done. We look forward to working with you!