When someone has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, their symptoms can make it extremely difficult for them to care for their physical needs and attend to routine matters. If the situation is left unaddressed, the person’s health and financial well-being can be placed at serious risk. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may need to ask a court to create a conservatorship to help ensure that their needs are met. If you are unfamiliar with the process, you will want to know: How can a conservatorship help a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
In California, if an adult is unable to take care of their physical needs or make certain financial decisions, a concerned relative, friend, or professional can ask a probate court to intervene. The request is made by filing a petition for legal conservatorship in the county where the individual resides. The petitioner will plead for the court to appoint another adult (the conservator) to make decisions on behalf of the impaired person (the conservatee).
However, getting a conservator appointed is not a simple matter of filing a document with the court. The party will have to provide evidence that proves that the intervention is needed. They will also have to explain why a less restrictive means can’t be used to support the proposed conservatee.
There are two types of California conservatorship, conservatorship of the person, and conservatorship of the estate. The conservator performs different tasks in each role.
Conservator of the Person– A conservator of the person will make decisions about the conservatee’s health care and physical well-being. These choices can include who their medical providers will be and where the person lives. The conservator can also make certain medical treatment decisions. A conservator of the person will also be responsible for making sure the conservatee has adequate nutrition, transportation, clothing, and shelter.
Conservator of the Estate– A conservator of the estate is responsible for taking care of the conservatee’s financial interests. Their responsibilities include paying the conservatee’s bills, accepting income and debts owed to them on their behalf, safeguarding their assets, managing investments, and making any other necessary financial decisions.
A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can live several or a few years. One example is former United States President Ronald Reagan. In 2004, former President Reagan announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For the next decade, his wife Nancy devoted herself to ensuring that her husband of fifty years had the best of care. The former first lady described her experience of losing her husband to this debilitating illness as “the long, long goodbye.” The former president died in 2004 at the age of 93, ten years after the announcement of his diagnosis. During the decade of his illness, it’s likely that President Reagan’s condition worsened, and his symptoms increased. It’s also likely that during this same period, the former first lady or someone else had the legal authority to make decisions about his medical care and financial interests and ensured that he had proper care.
Each person’s experience with dementia is unique, and its progression depends on the individual. By having conservatorships in place, you can help ensure that your loved one’s physical and emotional needs will be met and that their financial interests will be protected today and in the future. When someone is there to safeguard your loved one’s health and finances, sooner rather than later, they can offer the stability and support that is necessary to help them maintain their standard of care and living.
When a person has Alzheimer’s or dementia, factors such as physical health, emotional well-being, and available support can all contribute to their experience. Without a conservator, your loved one’s condition could deteriorate to the point that their health and safety are at risk. Further, without assistance, individuals in this state can be vulnerable to financial mismanagement and exploitation. A conservator can help prevent these types of problems before they arise in your loved one’s life.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California conservatorship attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and plan for your loved one’s future. Please contact us online or by phone to set up a free consultation today.