Conservatorships affects mainly older people, especially those over 85 years of age. That age group is the fastest growing age group in the United States.
What causes conservatorship proceedings to be initiated?
Most conservatorships start the same way. A concerned person may notice that a friend, family member, or neighbor is having trouble properly providing for their own personal needs, managing financial resources, or resisting the fraud or undue influence exerted by another person.
For those who have not nominated a conservator in their power of attorney or trust to serve in the event of incapacity or disability, or if the person handling the power of attorney or trust is incapable or dishonest, a conservatorship may become necessary. Removal and replacement of the power of attorney holder or trustee may also be necessary. Once appointed an incapable or dishonest conservator may also be removed and replaced. In other situations a conservator may need to be appointed to protect an elder from a family member or other person who is engaging in financial or physical elder abuse.
Conservatorships may be of the person or the estate or both. A conservatorship petition is usually started by a conservatorship attorney on behalf of the person or entity proposing that it be appointed conservator. The proposed conservator many be a family member, spouse or an unrelated third person. A conservatorship may be initiated by an agency or governmental entity. The conservatorship petition must include information about the conservator, the proposed conservatee and the conservatee’s family. The conservatorship petition must also explain in detail why the conservatorship is necessary and why any of the available alternatives to a conservatorship are not appropriate.
The proposed conservatee must be personally served with a citation for conservatorship and the conservatorship petition. The conservatee’s spouse or domestic partner and close family members must also be served with the conservatorship petition. A court investigator will talk not only to the proposed conservatee but family members and others to assess the situation. Then there will be a court hearing. The proposed conservatee will be required to attend the hearing if possible. The court will decide at the hearing whether the conservatorship petition will be granted or not.
The Superior Court of Orange County provides proposed conservator orientation and additional information about the legal processes, required forms and filing fees for those interested in filing the conservator petition on their own.
If your conservatorship matter is contested or if you would like the assistance of an attorney to get you through the conservatorship process, we can help. Whether you are a proposed conservator or conservatee we can answer all your conservatorship questions, advise you of your options, guide you through the legal process and keep you informed along the way — contact us today to schedule your complementary consultation.