Learning that your parent has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be overwhelming. Often, by the time the condition is suspected, the individual’s symptoms may be interfering with their ability to attend to their care and responsibilities. If your mother has been diagnosed, you will want to do all you can to support her well-being and protect her interests. Depending on her condition, you may need to have someone appointed as your mother’s conservator. In this situation, you may be thinking: My mother has Alzheimer’s disease: Can I get a conservatorship?
In California, a probate court can appoint an adult to make certain decisions on behalf of another adult as their legal conservator. The purpose of a conservatorship is to protect an impaired individual’s interest when they are not capable of doing so for themselves. However, the law favors adults retaining the ability to make decisions for themselves. Therefore, someone seeking a conservatorship would have to be able to show:
Conservatorship of the Person—this type of conservatorship allows another person to be appointed to make decisions regarding the conservatee’s physical needs. Specifically, conservators of the person are responsible for making choices regarding the person’s healthcare and ensuring that they have adequate food, clothing, shelter and that their recreational needs are met.
Conservatorship of the Estate—this type of conservatorship involves having an adult appointed to attend to another adult’s financial affairs. A conservator of the estate is responsible for making sure the conservatee’s bills are paid, accepting payments owed to them, and safeguarding their financial interest.
Getting a conservator appointed for your mother will involve you, or another concerned party, filing a document with the local probate court requesting the appointment. In addition to filing the required documents, the filing party will also need to include information regarding your mother’s condition.
Conservatorships can be complicated, especially if the conservatee opposes the appointment. If you plan on requesting that your mother be placed under a California conservatorship, you should consult with an experienced lawyer. Your California conservatorship attorney can help you navigate the process and determine the best options for protecting your mother’s interests.
A California conservatorship can be an important way to help protect someone with Alzheimer’s disease. However, depending on your mother’s condition, she may not need a formal conservatorship. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can occur in stages. When someone has an early diagnosis, their symptoms may not be as severe. For example, suppose your mother has an early-onset diagnosis. In that case, she may still have the capacity to help with planning for her needs. Someone in this position could prepare by creating a California Advance Health Care Directive and a Power of Attorney for finances.
A California Advance Health Care Directive is a legal device that a patient can use to provide instructions to their medical providers in the event of incapacity. This document is also used to designate a medical decision-maker to act on behalf of their incapacitated party. If your mother is able, she could create an advance health care directive to help plan for her future medical care needs.
A Power of Attorney for finances allows its creator to designate someone to act on their behalf regarding financial decision making. A power of attorney for finances can be devised to become active at the point of incapacity. Your mother could set up this device and name you or someone else of her choosing to manage her personal finances should she become incapacitated.
Being diagnosed with a serious condition such as Alzheimer’s can create a lot of uncertainty about the future. However, there are ways to anticipate your mother’s needs and protect her interests. If your mother or another loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to get the information you need to protect their interests. An experienced California conservatorship and estate planning attorney can help.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are California conservatorship and estate planning attorneys with the experience you need to plan for your mother’s needs. Please get in touch with us online or by phone to schedule an appointment today.