Defining guardianships and conservatorships in California

When you become a parent, your life changes. In an instant, this new little human becomes the most important person in your life. You care for them and watch them grow. However, what happens if this child you love becomes unable to meet their own needs, either in youth or in adulthood? How are you supposed to provide care? To answer that, in this post, we discuss guardianship and conservatorship basics in California.

Guardianships basics

Since the early 1980s, the state defines guardianship as a legal relationship of an adult who is responsible for a child under age 18. Provided the child has no parent, the guardian applies to become the child’s guardian until they reach 18. Once made guardian, the adult is able to maintain the care and safety of the youth, in a role similar to that of a parent. You can make a guardianship designation in your estate planning documents, along with backup guardians, just in case.

Conservatorship basics

Conservatorships are legal relationships that bind a conservator (parent or caregiver) to provide for the basic needs of the conservatee (another adult requiring care). These apply to situations in which a conservatee is older than 18, but still requires assistance. This assistance is often due to disability or illness.

Conservatees may be adults, spouses or other family members who require care. The courts want proof that the conservatee cannot meet their basic health and safety needs on their own, before granting the power to the conservator to manage the adult child’s finances and wellbeing. Courts also review conservatorships to ensure the conservatee’s affairs are managed properly.

What if I need assistance discussing my child’s care?

If you find yourself in need of advice on how best to proceed with your unique circumstances, a family law attorney who understands that you need a custom solution can help. They can explain how the California requirements for establishing and maintaining guardianships and conservatorships apply in your case. They can discuss your options and let you focus on providing care for your loved ones.