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Conservatorship – 3 of 6 (Becoming in Charge)

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Conservatorship – 3 of 6 (Becoming in Charge)

This writing is the third in a series regarding conservatorship court proceedings in California.

The first two writings covered who might need a conservatorship court proceeding, the three types of conservatorships, the two aspects of each of them, and some of the court procedures in general. This writing will focus on the process of having the court put someone in charge of another person through a conservatorship court proceeding.

The first step is filing a petition and related documents with the court. A petition is a document filed with the probate court requesting that the court take some action, and the probate court is where all conservatorship court cases occur.

Through the petition a specific person (the petitioner) asks the court to put himself (or someone else) in charge of the proceedings as the conservator.

When the petition is filed the court will set a hearing date and time, which normally will be within 60 days from when the documents are filed with the court. The hearing may be farther in the future if the court’s schedule is full.

(If the hearing is too far in the future, then the petitioner could file an additional petition to create a temporary conservatorship. He can often accomplish that in a matter of days instead of months. The temporary conservatorship lasts only until the previously mentioned hearing. It nearly doubles the amount of legal work, and courts are hesitant to create temporary conservatorships because there is not enough time for the court’s routine processes that are designed to help the court make the right decision. A later writing in this series will discuss these routine processes. The court requires a showing of imminent irreparable harm. Still a temporary conservatorship is very helpful when needed.)

The petitioner must take certain steps prior to the court hearing of the petition or else the court will not approve it. These steps are designed to ensure that anyone with any potential interest in the proposed conservatee, and the proposed conservatee herself, are aware of what the petitioner is asking of the court. These steps also are designed to help the court to determine whether a conservatorship is necessary.

Prior to the court hearing, the petitioner must arrange for personal delivery to the proposed conservatee of a document called a citation and a copy of the petition. Doing this informs the proposed conservatee of the proceedings and the time and place of the court hearing. It also provides the court with jurisdiction (or legal authority) over the proposed conservatee.

The proposed conservatee does not need to understand these documents.

Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition must also be mailed to all of the proposed conservatee’s relatives within the second degree as defined by California law. Her relatives within the second degree include all of her children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings. The notice tells these people when and where to go if they have information that they want to give to the court.

The petitioner must file documentation with the court letting it know about the personal delivery of the citation and mailing of the notice, as required.

The next post in this series (#4 of 6) will continue to discuss having the court put someone in charge of another person through a conservatorship court proceeding.