A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs and/or the personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both. The person who cannot care for him or herself is called the conservatee. A person or organization the judge chooses to do this is known as the conservator. A conservator can be a family member, friend or professional person.
A conservatorship ends when the conservatee dies, the conservatorship estate runs out of money, or the conservatee regains the ability to handle his or her own personal/financial affairs.
There are three types of conservatorship:
- A Limited Probate Conservatorship applies when the person is developmentally disabled. In this type of conservatorship, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible.
- A General Probate Conservatorship is for adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to physical injury, advanced age, dementia, or other conditions rendering them incapable of caring for themselves or making them subject to undue influence.
- A Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship is a special conservatorship that is set up to provide help for persons who suffer from a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism. These people may be a danger to themselves or others. the conservator is responsible for helping to find a placement and mental health treatment for the person who is gravely disabled. An LPS conservatorship is used only when the person needs mental health treatment but cannot or will not accept it voluntarily. Because the person subject to an LPS conservatorship may be placed in a locked facility, there are special protections to ensure that the conservatee's civil rights are protected. These cases are confidential.
The forms used to petition for appointment of probate conservator are in the following packet:
Once the Petition for Conservatorship has been filed, the clerk will set the matter for hearing. The hearing will generally be set 45 days from the date of filing.
On occasion, a temporary conservatorship may be appropriate if there is an emergency that requires an immediate appointment. A petition for temporary conservatorship must be filed with or after the petition for limited or general conservatorship. A Petition for Appointment of a Temporary Conservator should have all information supporting the need for emergency orders, including copies of all relevant medical, police, or Adult Protective Services reports. There is a filing fee for the Petition for Appointment of Temporary Conservator.
The forms used to petition for appointment of temporary conservator are in the following packet:
Present the original and two copies of the forms to the court at the Ex Parte Calendar. Before filing a petition you should review California Probate Codes 2250 through 2258 - external link so that you are aware of your responsibilities.
Probate Court Investigators are assigned to interview all persons who are the subject of a petition for conservatorship before the first hearing is held. The purpose of the interview is to determine if the person understands the proceedings or has any objections to it. There is a fee for the investigation. If you are unable to pay the fee you must file a Request for Waiver of Probate Court Investigator Fee at least 10 days before the hearing. The form and instructions are found in the Information Regarding Investigation Fee packet. After an appointment has been made, Probate Court Investigators periodically interview both the conservator and the conservatee and report to the court about the well-being of the conservatee and whether the conservatee's estate is being properly administered. Each review will generate a new assessment fee. If you are unable to pay the fee, you must file a Request for Waiver of Probate Court Investigator Fee within 15 days of receipt of the report. See the Information Regarding Investigator Fee packet for more information.
When the court chooses you as the conservator of a person, this means you:
- Arrange for the conservatee's care and protection;
- Decide where the conservatee will live; and
- Are in charge of the following:
- Health care
- Personal care
When the court chooses you to be the conservator of an estate, you will:
- Manage the conservatee's finances;
- Protect the conservatee's income and property;
- Make a list of everything in the estate;
- Make a plan to make sure the conservatee's needs are met;
- Make sure the conservatee's bills are paid;
- Invest the conservatee's money;
- Make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
- Make sure the conservatee's taxes are filed and paid on time;
- Keep exact financial records; and
- Make regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.