Conservatorship/or Adult Guardianship
Obtaining Adult Conservatorship of the Person or Estate
Although naming a guardian for a minor child involves a somewhat similar process, obtaining an adult Conservatorship is vastly different, especially in terms of what the court requires as proof that a Conservatorship is warranted. In fact, the process begins with the interested party filing a petition in court that requests the court to declare the incapacitated person incompetent, if its for the Person or Estate. Depending on what needs to be accomplished, and the disability that one may be facing, you could need a Conservatorship of the Person and Estate.
Sometimes, these filings are made “ex parte” (in secret), so a conservatorship can be established before family and friends even know it’s happening. Other times, conservatorship filings can lead to heated disputes between family members and/or friends, who may claim they’d be better suited for the role, and this can get very messy and costly.
Regardless of who files the petition, conservatorships will only be granted if the court determines there’s enough evidence to show the person is mentally incapacitated-to the point where they can no longer make legal, financial, and/or healthcare decisions for themselves. If a conservatorship is granted, the incapacitated person is known as the guardian’s “ward.”
Who Can Serve as a Conservator of the Person or Estate?
Although courts typically give preference to a spouse or another close family member, a conservator doesn’t have to be a relative. Provided the person is a competent adult, a close friend, or any other interested party can serve as long as they prove they’re best suited for the position.
If a relative or friend is not willing-or capable-of serving, the court will appoint a professional guardian or public guardian. Sadly, in certain situations this can lead to horrible financial and/or physical abuse or high cost to the estate of the incapacitated, so it’s best to plan ahead and name a conservator in your estate planning documents to keep courts out of the picture entirely.
Adult Conservatorships Responsibilities
Depending on the extent of the person’s incapacity, a court-appointed conservator can be given near complete control over a person’s life. There are two types of conservatorships: conservator of the person and conservator of the estate.
Conservator of the person involves making decisions about the ward’s place of residence, physicians, medical treatment, and a host of other personal issues. Conservatorship of the estate involves decisions about the person’s income, legal actions, assets, insurance claims, and many other matters.
Usually one person is appointed for both roles, but the court can also split the responsibilities among multiple parties. For instance, one conservator may oversee the financial decisions (Conservator of the Estate), while another may handle all of the living arrangements and healthcare (Conservator of the Person). Moreover, the court often requires the conservator(s) to file detailed status reports-like financial accounting-at regular intervals or whenever important decisions are made, such as the sale of assets, again, you can have a Conservator of the Estate and Person. They maybe the same person or you can split the two, depending on the circumstances.
Some of the most common duties of adult guardians or Conservators of the Estate or Person include:
- Paying the ward’s bills
- Determining where they live
- Monitoring their residence and living conditions
- Providing consent for medical treatments
- Deciding how their finances are handled, including how their assets are invested and if any assets should be liquidated
- Managing real estate and other tangible property
- Keeping detailed records of all their expenditures and other financial transactions
- Making end-of-life and other palliative-care decisions
Trusted Soto Law Group, APC, Conservatorship Attorneys
With the huge responsibility and loss of control that comes with conservatorships, the process can often feel overwhelming. The best course of action is to use estate planning to name a preferred conservator ahead of time, so the family won’t have to deal with a courtroom or lawyers in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s not always how life works out, so if you need a reliable conservator attorney, contact The Soto Law Group, APC, today.
“An excellent attorney who helped me with all aspects of Conservatorship, Special Needs trusts, and estate planning. I would not hesitate to recommend her to other clients, especially parents of special needs children. She is highly informed and made the process less stressful. It is a huge weight off my shoulders having done all this. I can’t thank Dede enough. Definitely go to the Soto Law Group for your estate planning needs. The best in the area.” Posted by Claudia
Efficient, Helpful, and Wise
Posted by Jane
August 3, 2016
Dede helped my husband and I curate a trust and will for our family. She helped us understand everything we needed to know in regards to planning and organizing some of the most important things in life and putting good practices and documents into place. We are so glad to have set this up for our family and that it was such an easy and seamless process.
Also of great notice:
– The price is very fair.
– Marlies at the front is delightful to work with and very timely with communications.
– Our meetings always began and finished on time; we are busy and appreciate timeliness.
– Dede thought of everything down to a time capsule to record our family thoughts and expressions for our children one day.
We are very satisfied with their services and have already recommended them to many of our friends.
Posted by Jim
September 8, 2015
DeDe’s most impressive attribute is her ability to make you feel comfortable. At no time did I feel that she was rushing me or that she was not focused on the tasks relevant to establishing my trust. I am detail oriented; but that did not bother DeDe, as she took the time to explain certain nuances to me.
Talk about detail! DeDe found a discrepancy among some deeds I had given her. Only some one, who had diligently reviewed those documents, would have caught the error. I grade DeDe outstanding in knowledge of the law, social interaction, and professionalism.
We have enjoyed the process and appreciate all you efforts and hard work to make it smooth and painless…in spite of the many obstacles encountered along the way. It’s a good feeling of accomplishment knowing that things are taken care of and we have one less thing to be concerned about as we enjoy the fruits of our labor during the second half of our lives. Once again thank you and take care.
Danny & Esperanza Fernandez, Azusa, CA
I am so thankful you were at the Laguna Niguel YMCA. I really debated on going to your presentation, I am glad I did. It really shows how much you care about families by not only helping families through the process of the legal stuff but the idea of a priceless conversation. It’s truly been an amazing experience. I feel at peace knowing my boys are set up with what they need in the event something should happen to my husband and me.
Getting to see you and your husband interact and support one another was a real treat!
Thank you again for the experience.
Ashley and Chris, Laguna Niguel, CA
Dear DeDe, We want to thank you so much for the extra time you took for not only the overview of our past trust but also the in depth explanation of things we were not sure of. We are very pleased with the professional way everything was handled. integrity showed on every change and new addition. We appreciate everything you did to help make this as uncomplicated as possible. If we here of anyone needing a trust or will you will be highly recommended. Thank you sincerely,
Julieta and Bob, Laguna Niguel, CA