Saturday, September 2, 2017

Do you need to file for a conservatorship?

The Legal Doc has prepared and processed conservatorship and guardianship filings for many years.  Below we have provided information concerning Conservatorships.  There we have provided information concerning various types of conservatorships depending on the conservatee’s needs. 

Probate conservatorships are the most common type of conservatorship. Probate conservatorships can be:
  • General Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. 
  • Limited Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their finances. Conservatees in limited conservatorships do not require a higher level of care than conservatees in general conservatorships may require. 
  • A conservator of the person cares for and protects a person. The conservator is responsible for making sure that the conservatee has proper food, clothing, shelter, and health care. Depending on the conservatee’s ability to understand and make decisions, the conservator may need to make important medical decision for the conservatee.
  • A conservator of the estate handles the conservatee’s financial matters — like paying bills and collecting a person’s income. 
When a conservatorship is needed right away, the court may appoint a temporary conservator until a general conservator can be appointed. The main duties of a temporary conservator are arranging for the temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee, and protecting the conservatee’s finances and property.

Lanterman-Petris conservatorships are used to care for adults with serious mental health illnesses who suffer disabilities and require special care. These conservatorships are used for people who usually need very restrictive living arrangements (for instance, they live in a facility) and require extensive mental health treatment. Conservatees in LPS conservatorships cannot or will not agree to the special living arrangements or treatment on their own.  The most common filings under this act are those associated with minors who are unable to make their own decisions and who are turning 18.  A conservator is appointed in these cases, to make personal, medical, and educational decisions for an adult child.

The probate court can appoint a conservator of the person, a conservator of the estate, or both, depending on the needs of the conservatee.

The duties of a conservator of the person are to: 
  • Arrange for the conservatee’s care and protection.
  • Decide where the conservatee will live.
  • Make arrangements for the conservatee’s: 
    • Meals,
    • Health care,
    • Clothing,
    • Personal care,
    • Housekeeping,
    • Transportation,
    • Shelter,
    • Recreation, and
    • Well-being.
    • Report to the court on the conservatee’s current status.
The duties of a conservator of the estate are to: 
  • Manage the conservatee’s finances.
  • Locate and take control of all assets.
  • Collect the conservatee’s income.
  • Make a budget to show what the conservatee can afford.
  • Pay the conservatee’s bills.
  • Responsibly invest the conservatee’s money.
  • Protect the conservatee’s assets.
  • Account to the court and to the conservatee for the management of the conservatee’s assets.
 There are a number of people who can file for a conservatorship:In appointing a conservator, the court is seeks the best interests of the conservatee. If the proposed conservatee has nominated someone (and the proposed conservatee has the mental and physical ability to express his or her preference), the court will appoint that person as conservator unless it is notT in the proposed conservatee’s best interests.
If the proposed conservatee has not or cannot nominate anyone, then the following people may request to serve as the person nominating a conservator:
The order of preference is:  Spouse or domestic partner, Adult child, Parent, Sibling, Any other person the law says is okay, Public Guardian.

If the person closest to the top of the list does not want to be conservator, he or she can nominate someone else.  If you believe you must file for a conservatorship, you should take steps to be certain that establishing a conservatorship is the only way to meet the person’s needs. If there is an alternative to the conservatorship, the court may not grant your petition.

You may not need a conservatorship if the person who needs help:

1.   Can cooperate with a plan to meet his or her basic needs.
2.   Has the capacity and willingness to sign a power of attorney naming someone to help with his or her finances or health-care decisions.
3.   Has only social security or welfare income every month and the Social Security Administration can appoint you Representative Payee. The Representative Payee is the person the beneficiary allows to receive social security checks in his or her name on behalf of the beneficiary.
4.   Is married or is in a domestic partnership and the spouse or partner can handle financial transactions. The property must be community property or in joint accounts.

There are other documents which may serve as alternatives to conservatorships.
For Medical and Personal Care Decisions:
  • Advance health care directive
  • Court authorization for medical treatment
  • Informal personal care arrangements
  • Restraining orders to protect against harassment
  • Power of attorney
  • A substitute payee for public benefits (like veterans’ benefits or social security benefits)
  • Informal arrangements
  • Joint title on bank accounts or other property
  • Living trusts 
Setting up a conservatorship is a long and complex process. The Legal Doc has years of experience preparing and processing documents for conservatorships and guardianships.

No comments: