Understanding conservatorships in California

If an adult cannot care for him or herself or his or her finances, it may be necessary to pursue a conservatorship. A judge can appoint a responsible adult to act as a conservator. The conservator may be a friend or family member.

The person subject to the conservatorship is called a conservatee. There are two types of conservatorships, a conservatorship of the person and a conservatorship of the estate.


With a conservatorship of the person, the conservator is responsible for ensuring the conservatee has their needs met such as food, clothing, shelter and health care. In some situations, the conservator may need to make medical decisions for the conservatee.

With a conservatorship of the estate, the conservator is responsible for financial matters. This may include paying the conservatee’s bills, filing the conservatee’s taxes and managing other property.

The court may grant a temporary conservatorship if it finds that the conservatee has immediate needs or to fill in between permanent conservators. Temporary conservators have limited authority and are only in place until a permanent conservator is appointed.


The proposed conservator must follow specific filing and notice requirements. He or she is also required to complete an education class within six months of the appointment as conservator.

The conservator must make regular reports to the court and other parties to demonstrate that he or she is carrying out their responsibilities properly. If it becomes necessary to change conservators, the conservator must notify the court.

If a person would like guidance about the conservatorship process, there is assistance available.