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Conservatorship – 5 of 6 (Responsibilities)

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Conservatorship – 5 of 6 (Responsibilities)

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

The prior writings discussed 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. They also covered the process of having the court put someone in charge of another person through a conservatorship court proceeding.

Responsibilities of a Conservator

After a conservator is placed in charge by the court, one of his first responsibilities is to mail a notice to the conservatee informing her of his appointment as conservator.

In a conservatorship of the person providing the conservator with authority over medical and personal affairs, the conservator also needs to prepare a plan for providing care to the conservatee, mail it to the relatives of the conservatee, and file it with the court.

If he is conservator of the estate with authority over assets and income, then after he files the bond with the court (if required) and the court generates those two documents that are his proof of authority that he is in charge, he will use those two documents to change ownership of all of the conservatee’s assets to his name as the person in charge as conservator of the conservatorship court proceeding.

If he is conservator of the estate, then he also needs to file an inventory with the court.

The inventory lists all of the assets of the conservatee that will be subject to this court proceeding, and it indicates the values of these assets as of when the court created the conservatorship by appointing the conservator. Also in some counties the inventory needs to list the conservatee’s annual benefits income like Social Security.

If there are assets other than cash and personal effects such as clothing and furniture, then a person called a probate referee will need to provide the value of those assets on the inventory. The probate referee charges a fee for this service, and the conservator can pay it from the assets of the conservatee.

Ordinarily, the conservator must go to court at the end of the first year of the conservatorship. He needs to file another petition with the court, and again, it will be set for hearing before a judge. This petition is called an accounting, or an account. An account petition shows precisely how the conservator managed all of the conservatee’s assets during the first year.

After that first account petition he generally must go back to court with an account petition every other year as long as the conservatee is alive.

These accounts are extremely detailed, and they need to be in the unique accounting format required by California law. They also need to be accurate to the penny.

To help the court verify these accounts, the conservator must file with the court originals of bank account statements, statements pertaining to other financial accounts, statements of any skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, and escrow closing statements if real property sold.

It is possible to have the court waive that account petition requirement sometimes, which will be discussed in the next writing in this series.

A conservator is entitled to be paid fees from the assets of the conservatee. His attorney also is entitled to fees paid from the assets of the conservatee. Neither the conservator nor his attorney may be paid from those assets without prior approval from the court.

In some cases, the court will waive some of these requirements.

The 6th and final post in this series will discuss special issues including the circumstances under which the court may waive certain requirements.