A conservator may be appointed by California courts if a judge determines that a person is unable to care for themselves or needs help managing their own finances. It is important to understand the differences between the various types of conservatorships so the conservator is clear about his or her duties. The probate court has the option to grant conservatorship over a person’s estate, their person or both.
Elderly people and those who have been in serious accidents are most commonly subject to general conservatorships. In these cases, a conservator makes decisions on behalf of the ward. These decisions can range from daily care, such as what to wear, what to eat and when to bathe to important medical decisions that the ward cannot make on his or her own. In most cases, the conservator knows the conservatee very well and is able to make important choices in that person’s best interest. A conservatee who also needs someone to manage their money may have one or two conservators.
Limited conservatorships are available for mentally disabled adults who are able to take care of some, but not all, of their own needs. A conservator may be appointed to collect the conservatee’s income and ensure their bills are paid or to take on housekeeping duties for them. A third option, called Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship, is available for people who need special care. Conservatees in LPS conservatorships may need to stay in a locked facility for mental health treatment. A conservatorship in these cases may be granted when the person needs treatment but refuses to go willingly.
Conservatorships are a legal process. An attorney who focuses on probate matters may help a family member who wants to serve as conservator for an incapacitated relative.
Source: California Courts, “Conservatorship“, November 23, 2014