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Conservatorship – 4 of 6 (More on Becoming in Charge)

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Conservatorship – 4 of 6 (More on Becoming in Charge)

California Conservatorship #4 of series (6) by Meinzer Law Firm in Torrance, CA: Conservatorship court proceedings in California.

How a Conservator is Placed in Charge of Conservatee

This post discusses the remainder of the conservatorship process by which someone (known as the conservator) is put in charge of an incapacitated person (known as the conservatee).

Generally, three documents will be filed with the court to help the court determine whether a conservatorship is necessary. First, a physician must complete a document assessing the proposed conservatee’s mental faculties. Also a court employee will perform an investigation and file a report with the court to make recommendations regarding whether the court should approve the petition and create the conservatorship.

Finally, the court will appoint an independent attorney to protect the interests of the proposed conservatee. The court cannot give someone legal authority over a proposed conservatee unless it removes that legal authority from the proposed conservatee. So the court wants the proposed conservatee to have an advocate to protect against a conservatorship being created for someone who does not need it.

In a limited conservatorship, a fourth document is required to help the court to determine whether a limited conservatorship is necessary for someone with a developmental disability. That fourth document is a report prepared by the regional center. Regional centers exist in California to provide assessments, determine eligibility for services, and offer case management services for people who have developmental disabilities.

If there is disagreement regarding whether a conservatorship is necessary and/or who should be in charge as conservator, then someone may formally object to the petition, or even file their own competing petition. In that case, a geriatric-psychiatric evaluation of the proposed conservatee, a mediation, or a jury trial may be required. All of this slows down the process.

Fortunately, most conservatorship court proceedings do not go in this direction.

If there is no formal objection or competing petition (and the physician report, court employee investigation, and independent attorney all support the petition), then the court ordinarily will appoint the proposed conservator to be in charge as requested. The court will generate two documents that will be his proof of authority that he is in control of the incapacitated person.

If this is a conservatorship of the estate that would give him authority over assets and income, then the court ordinarily will not generate those two documents until he files a bond with the court. Like a plumber’s bond that will pay if the plumber damages a house, the bond required by the court will replace the value of assets if the conservator absconds with them.

There is an annual premium payment for the bond. The conservator can pay the annual premium from the assets of the conservatee (or the conservatorship estate).

A later writing in this series will discuss the circumstances in which the court may waive that bond requirement.

If not waived and after filing the bond with the court, the court will generate those two documents that will be the conservator’s proof of authority that he is in control of the incapacitated person.