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Friday, June 26, 2015

Basics of Conservatorship in California

I am concerned about my nephew, who has several special needs and medical issues. He is an adult, but does not have other family members to care for him or help him with finances. What can I do? 


Stepping up to fulfil the role of conservator for a beloved family member or friend is a truly selfless and caring act – however, there are a number of legal implications to consider. 

In California, conservatorship may be awarded to an eligible and qualified adult petitioner for the benefit of another adult who is incapable of managing his or her daily care and/or financial situation. The incapability may be due to a temporary situation or a permanent cognitive or health issue. There are generally two types of conservatorships available in California, which is explained more thoroughly below. Likewise, an interested individual must submit a petition for conservatorship in California probate court, which may invite unexpected objections from other family members. 

Types of Conservatorships in California

A probate conservatorship is the most common, and is governed by the laws of California’s Probate Code. Within this category are two sub-categories known as General Conservatorship and Limited Conservatorship. A General Conservatorship is often appropriate for an elderly individual experiencing mental incapacity, or a younger individual with impairments following a severe accident or illness. This arrangement is generally appropriate for the long-term, and allows a conservator to help the ward with daily living and financial issues. 

A Limited Conservatorship, as the name implies, is appropriate for a ward with a milder developmental disability who is able to care for his or her daily needs and finances to an extent, but may need assistance with more complex issues. This type of arrangement can be short- or long-term, depending on the ward’s needs – and the conservator’s role is much more limited in scope. 

Lastly, a Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship is available for the benefit of someone with a severe, irreversible mental illness requiring constant care, monitoring, and medication. These conservatorships are initiated by a government agency, and often under the strenuous objections of the proposed ward. If this is your situation, the county Public Guardian or Public Conservator may be able to help further. 

If you are facing a difficult situation with a loved one and would like to discuss your options under California’s conservatorship laws, please contact the San Jose and Santa Clara County estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge today by calling (408)985-9918. 



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