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Conservatorships

Thursday, 01 August 2013 08:09

    How are conservatorships created and why are they beneficial? A court has the authority to appoint an individual or an organization as a "conservator" to manage a person, a person's estate or sometimes both. This appointment occurs when the person is unable to care for themself or manage their own financial affairs. The cared for person is known as the "conservatee." Generally, the conservatee is seriously incapacitated. He or she may be in a coma or suffering from the effects of a tragic accident or more typically, suffering with a serious illness such as Alzheimer's or simply age-related

dementia. Conservatorships are the special province of the probate court. If the court is satisfied, after sufficient evidence is presented, that a person cannot manage his or her finances or personal care, the court will appoint a conservator to manage that which the conservatee is unable to manage.
    The duties of the conservator of the person are to decide where the conservatee will live, ensure the conservatee has healthful meals, clothing to wear, appropriate health care and personal care, and to tend to the conservatee's recreation and well being. The conservator's may require permission of the court regarding certain situations concerning living arrangements and health care. The conservator will also give the court updates of the conservatee's physical and emotional status. The duties of a conservator of an estate are to manage the conservatee's finances. This includes collecting the conservatee's income, locating their assets, paying their bills, creating a budgeting for court approval if necessary, protecting their assets by ensuring that they are adequately insured if necessary. Additionally, as required by the court, the conservator is required to file an accounting with the court for its approval.
    The advantage to a conservatorship is that once a conservator has been appointed by the court, that conservatory will be required to update the court with the conservatee's personal status as well as account to the court with respect to the state of the conservatee's finances. Often, for further protection the court will order a bond be issued so that in the event the conservator absconds with the conservatee's money, it is insured. These protections give an added layer of security ensuring that the conservatee is being properly cared for both personally and financially. Additionally, the court will generally appoint a probate investigator and a separate attorney for the conservatee in order to have additional parties who make contact with the conservatee in his or her home environment and report to the court periodically.

 

    The duties of conservators are published in a very helpful conservator handbook at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/conservatorship_handbook.pdf.

    Although conservatorships are sometimes necessary, most people would prefer to avoid them because they can be expensive and cumbersome as a method of managing your or an elder relative's care as one ages. To avoid the necessity of a conservatorship, one can create an advance health directive and a durable power of attorney. This allows you to appoint the person or persons you want to make decisions regarding your finances and end of life care. However, there may still be circumstances which would require a conservatorship. In your documents you can name who you would want appointed in the event of such an occurrence. The court will give deference to whom you name. The court will be guided to ensure the best interests of the conservatee. If a conservatee has not or cannot nominate a conservator then the law will go by a list to determine potential candidates. The list is as follows:
    ∙ Spouse or domestic partner
    ∙ Adult child
    ∙ Parent
    ∙ Sibling
    ∙ Friend or other Relative
    ∙ Public Guardian
    The court will base its decision based on the best interests of the conservatee. For more information on conservatorships, follow this link http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-conservatorship.htm.

   Conservatorships are complicated and we at the Law Offices of Gloria D. Cordova, Inc., can help you with your conservatorship needs or help you prepare estate planning documents to avoid the necessity of your ever needing one. Just give us a call at 909.612.5790 and set up a consultation so we can get you started. Also check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gcordovalaw?ref=hl.

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