In conservatorships, what rights does the conservatee retain?

In California, it is not uncommon for an adult to need to be cared for if he or she cannot care for themselves. This is when a conservatorship can be used to provide that care. The conservator’s duties will include protecting and caring or the conservatee; ensuring that there are proper meals, healthcare and the basics of daily life; and their decisions to benefit the person are approved by the court. An issue that can be confusing is what rights the conservatee retains once here is a conservatorship. When thinking about a conservatorship, it is important to understand these issues and to be firmly grounded in the law so there are no disputes as to rights of the conservator and the conservatee.

A conservatee’s rights in a conservatorship in California

The conservatee does not surrender all input when there is a conservator placed in charge of his or her care. That person can speak out about issues, discuss concerns and complaints and take part in the decisions made by the conservator. If the conservatee wants the court to review the conservator’s handling of the affairs, it is legal to do so. In many instances, disagreements can be addressed between the conservator and the conservatee. If not, the court can intervene.

The court also periodically checks in with the parties to ensure there are no problems and to handle them if there are. This is done by a court investigator. The conservatee can continue to receive and control salary earned. If there are visitors, calls, the person receives mail, the conservatee retains the rights to take part in these activities without interference. In addition, the conservatee can alter an estate plan, get married, have legal representation, request a change in conservators, ask that the conservatorship be ended, control spending money, decide on medical care independently, take part in business decisions, and more.

Conservators and conservatees should have legal assistance

There may be a fundamental belief that a conservatorship means that the conservator exerts overriding control over the conservatee. That is not the case. The goal is to ensure that the conservatee is safe and properly cared for, but it does not mean that the conservator can oversee and interfere with the person’s entire life. Seeking and receiving a conservatorship is a major step and substantial responsibility. Not everyone fully understands what it entails at the outset. Whether it is from the perspective of the conservator or the conservatee, it is beneficial to have legal assistance from the start to ensure the law is followed and the agreement moves forward as planned.