When your parents start to show signs of getting older, it may start with their reflexes being slightly slower or the occasional memory lapse. These symptoms may not be alarming in and of themselves. However, when your mom or dad is getting frequently confused and having problems with their primary care needs, they may be struggling with their cognitive functioning. Your parent’s condition may be so severe that there is a safety risk. At this point, you may want to ask: What do you do when you think your parent needs a guardian?
Although the term guardianship can be used interchangeably with the word conservatorship, in California, when an adult is appointed to take on the responsibilities of another adult, the legal relationship is called a conservatorship.
There are two types of conservatorships:
- Conservatorship of the Person: When an adult is not able to take care of their physical needs, a California probate court can appoint someone to serve as their conservator of the person. The conservator of the person will ensure that the person has adequate food, clothing, and shelter and is getting appropriate medical care.
- Conservatorship of the Estate: The court can appoint a conservator of the estate to take on another person’s financial responsibilities if the impaired individual is experiencing difficulty managing these tasks. The conservator of the estate may manage responsibilities such as paying bills and receiving funds owed to the individual.
A conservatorship is a legal appointment that will be overseen by the probate court. These cases can become complicated, especially if the possible conservatee does not agree with the appointment.
Help Your Parent Obtain Medical Care
If your parent has concerning symptoms, you should help them get in to see their doctor as soon as possible so they can be adequately evaluated. Your parent’s physician can be a good starting place to determine what level of intervention may be needed now and in the future. Knowing more about your parent’s condition can help you create a more comprehensive plan for their care.
Look into Less Restrictive Measures if Possible
If your parent’s condition is not severe, he or she may be able to help you put measures in place to avoid conservatorship. For example, depending on their capacity, your parent may be able to prepare a power of attorney to allow you or another trusted individual to assume responsibility for their financial affairs. Your mother or father could also create an Advance Health Care Directive that will state their medical treatment preferences and identify someone to make medical decisions on their behalf.
If you have concerns about your parent’s ability to care for themselves or attend to their affairs, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced California conservatorship and elder attorney as soon as possible to discuss these issues. You and your attorney can review the situation and determine what is needed to help protect your parent.
At the Law Office of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California conservatorship and elder attorneys. We understand the issues that arise when a parent is experiencing challenges with capacity and can help you examine your options. Contact us today for a free consultation.