Parents may take it for granted that they have control over their children’s affairs. However, when a child reaches the age of majority, which in California is 18, everything changes. Parents no longer have the legal right to access their adult children’s health records, make critical medical decisions or handle their children’s financial affairs.

But what happens when a child graduates from an individualized education program and is incapable of making his or her own decisions? According to Cal State, a parent may need to apply for limited conservatorship.

What is conservatorship?

The court may appoint a person or entity to take care of the activities of daily life for someone who is unable to do so for himself or herself. This may involve handling finances, housing, food, clothing and health matters.

The court will not grant the petition to appoint a conservator without evidence that the proposed conservatee is not capable of self-care. The court continues to play a part in conservatorships through periodic reviews.

What is a limited conservatorship?

This type of conservatorship is only for adults with developmental disabilities. The court determines the limitations on the conservatorship based on what personal and financial abilities the conservatee has and the areas in which he or she has needs of assistance.

The idea behind the limited conservatorship is to encourage developmentally disabled individuals to be as independent and self-reliant as possible and to protect their well-being. At the same time, it allows the parents of these adults to retain their authority to speak on their children’s behalf and play an important role in their care.

Is a conservatorship necessary?

Parents may not need to request a limited conservatorship if their adult child’s primary need for assistance is in regard to medical treatment. The court may authorize the parent to provide informed consent on behalf of his or her child in some cases.