When an aging parent shows signs that they are struggling with attending to their personal needs or financial interests, it can be difficult to determine when to intervene. What started as occasional memory lapses may have advanced to frequent incidences where your parent is exhibiting concerning behavior. In this situation, it’s essential to take steps to assist your parent and protect their interests as soon as possible. If your parent’s functioning has declined to the point that they can no longer make informed decisions, you may need to go to court and ask for a conservatorship. Here is more on how to get conservatorship over a parent in California:
What is a California Conservatorship?
In California, when an adult is concerned about another adult’s well-being and ability to care for their personal or financial interests, they can petition a court for legal conservatorship. This process involves the court evaluating evidence of the individual’s impairment and potentially appointing a conservator to make decisions on their behalf.
There are two types of conservators: 1) A conservator of the person, and 2) a conservator of the estate.
Conservator of the Person
A conservator of the person is appointed when an adult cannot attend to their personal and physical needs without assistance. Under California law, “[a] conservator of the person may be appointed for a person who is unable to provide properly for his or her personal needs for physical health, food, clothing, or shelter….” This type of conservator will be responsible for making decisions regarding the conservatee’s medical care and where they reside. The appointed person will also be charged with ensuring that the conservatee has adequate food and clothing and that their recreational needs are met.
Conservator of the Estate
A conservator of the estate is appointed to manage the conservatee’s financial interest. Under California law, “[a] conservator of the estate may be appointed for a person who is substantially unable to manage his or her own financial resources or resist fraud or undue influence…” This type of conservator will be responsible for managing the conservatee’s financial accounts, collecting funds owed to them, paying the conservatee’s bills, and attending to their other assets. A conservator of the estate may also be able to sell the conservatee’s property and assets for the conservatee’s benefit.
The Conservatorship Process
The conservatorship process is initiated when a concerned party files a Petition for Conservatorship in a California probate court in the county where the proposed conservatee resides.
If you are seeking a conservatorship of the person, your petition would need to include facts concerning “[t]he inability of the proposed conservatee to properly provide for his or her needs for physical health, food, clothing, and shelter.”
For a conservatorship of the estate, your petition would need to include facts related to “the inability of the proposed conservatee to substantially manage his or her own financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.” As the petitioning party, you would also be required to include alternatives to conservatorship “considered by the petitioner or proposed conservator and reasons why those alternatives are not available.”
An investigator will be assigned by the court to gather information about and interview your parent. Your parent, their spouse, and certain relatives must be provided with a copy of the petition and proper notice of the conservatorship hearing. If your parent disagrees with the conservatorship, the court can appoint counsel to represent their interests in the proceedings.
At the conservatorship hearing, the court will determine if your parent and their relatives were properly notified and consider evidence of your parent’s incapacity. Your parent will be required to attend the hearing unless it’s determined that they cannot meaningfully participate. After hearing the evidence, the court will either grant or deny the requested conservatorship.
Conservatorship cases can be complicated, and it’s vital that you have the information and guidance you need to navigate the process. If you are concerned that your parent may need a conservatorship, you should contact an experienced California conservatorship attorney to discuss the matter as soon as possible. Your counsel can assist you in assessing the facts and determining the best way to safeguard your parent’s physical and financial well-being.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California conservatorship attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and determine the best solutions for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.