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What Is a limited conservatorship in California?

Everyone deserves a life of dignity and happiness, including those people who may need some help making decisions for themselves. California’s conservatorship laws allow for people to assist those adults who have limited abilities to care for themselves and their assets. A limited conservatorship is designed specifically for adults who have a developmental disability that began before they turned 18. Once a person turns 18, their parents can no longer make legal decisions for them without a conservatorship.

What makes a limited conservatorship different?

Adults who grew up with a developmental disability are not all alike. They are as individual as everyone else. They have talents and skills, as well as struggles and difficulties. A general conservatorship is often neither necessary nor appropriate. That is why California law allows for a “limited” conservatorship for this special group of people. The conservatorship is limited to the areas the conservatee needs help with based on their disability. Such areas may include:

  • Helping them decide where to live
  • Signing contracts on their behalf
  • Helping them decide on education and vocational training
  • Assisting with finances
  • Making decisions about medical treatment

These are only examples and may not apply equally to all conservatees. At the court hearing, the judge will review the reports prepared by the court-appointed attorneys, the regional center and the court investigator and make various decisions including exactly what powers the conservator will have and to what degree. The conservatee will retain the right to make other decisions for themselves.

Who is an appropriate conservator?

With limited conservatorships, parents often petition the court. Parents often know their children best, including their limitations and abilities, making them a natural choice. If a parent is unable or unavailable to act, often other relatives, such as a sibling, will step in.

If you have a child or other loved one with a developmental disability who is about to turn 18, or an adult child, now is the time to look into a limited conservatorship for them. With the right legal guidance, you can help your loved one create a bright and fulfilling future for themselves.