A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs and/or the personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both. The person who cannot care for him or herself is called the conservatee. A person or organization the judge chooses to do this is known as the conservator. A conservator can be a family member, friend or professional person.
A conservatorship ends when the conservatee dies, the conservatorship estate runs out of money, or the conservatee regains the ability to handle his or her own personal/financial affairs.
There are three types of conservatorship:
- A Limited Probate Conservatorship applies when the person is developmentally disabled. In this type of conservatorship, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible.
- A General Probate Conservatorship is for adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to physical injury, advanced age, dementia, or other conditions rendering them incapable of caring for themselves or making them subject to undue influence.
- A Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship is a special conservatorship that is set up to provide help for persons who suffer from a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism. These people may be a danger to themselves or others. the conservator is responsible for helping to find a placement and mental health treatment for the person who is gravely disabled. An LPS conservatorship is used only when the person needs mental health treatment but cannot or will not accept it voluntarily. Because the person subject to an LPS conservatorship may be placed in a locked facility, there are special protections to ensure that the conservatee's civil rights are protected. These cases are confidential.
When the court chooses you as the conservator of a person, this means you:
- Arrange for the conservatee's care and protection;
- Decide where the conservatee will live; and
- Are in charge of the following:
- Health care
- Personal care
When the court chooses you to be the conservator of an estate, you will:
- Manage the conservatee's finances;
- Protect the conservatee's income and property;
- Make a list of everything in the estate;
- Make a plan to make sure the conservatee's needs are met;
- Make sure the conservatee's bills are paid;
- Invest the conservatee's money;
- Make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
- Make sure the conservatee's taxes are filed and paid on time;
- Keep exact financial records; and
- Make regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.
Who Can File for Conservatorship?
In appointing a conservator, the court is guided by 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 NOT in the proposed conservatee’s best interests.
There are a number of people who can file for a conservatorship:
- The spouse or domestic partner of the proposed conservatee;
- A relative of the proposed conservatee
- Any interested state or local entity or agency
- Any other interested person or friend of the proposed conservatee
- The proposed conservatee, himself or herself