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What is a conservatorship in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2023 | Conservatorship

Certain situations may render an individual unable to manage their affairs. The need for someone else to step in can be emotionally and legally complicated. This is where a conservatorship comes into the picture.  

A conservatorship grants one individual the authority to make decisions on behalf of another. It’s a significant change in the dynamics of personal autonomy and family relationships. 

What exactly is a conservatorship?

In California, a conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints an individual or organization to manage the affairs of another adult who can’t care for themselves or their finances. This goes beyond simple power of attorney. 

A conservatorship grants legal authority to make a broad range of decisions that could significantly affect the conservatee’s life. This includes a variety of points, from healthcare choices to property management.

When is a conservatorship necessary?

Conservatorships typically come into play when an adult can’t make informed decisions due to physical or mental limitations. This could result from a severe accident, progressive medical conditions like Alzheimer’s or other debilitating circumstances. 

The purpose is to provide a structured and legally recognized way to ensure the well-being and financial security of the conservatee. Because it involves relinquishing a substantial amount of personal freedom, it’s generally considered a last resort after exploring all other options.

Challenges faced by conservators and the conservatee

Stepping into the role of a conservator isn’t just a significant legal commitment. It’s also a considerable emotional and logistical undertaking. The conservator assumes an important responsibility and is subject to oversight by the court to ensure they act in the conservatee’s best interest. 

Conservatorships aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. California law recognizes different conservatorships, such as conservatorship of the person, conservatorship of the estate and Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships, specifically for individuals with a severe mental illness. Each comes with its own set of rules, responsibilities and limitations. Working with someone who understands these may be beneficial for anyone involved in this type of situation.