Unfortunately, there may come a time in a relative’s life when he or she cannot meet daily needs without assistance. A conservatorship is appropriate in California when someone is unable to take care of himself or herself, including managing finances.
What is a conservatorship?
In a conservatorship, a responsible person or organization is appointed by the court to help someone who cannot get along in life without assistance. There are three different kinds of conservatorships with different uses.
A general conservatorship helps an adult of any age who cannot take care of himself or his finances. A limited conservatorship helps an adult of any age who has a developmental disability or other disability and who cannot fully care for himself or his finances. Limited conservatorships are appropriate for people who need less care or help than people in general conservatorships but still need some assistance. Finally, Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships help adults with serious mental illnesses who need special living arrangements and treatment. People in LPS conservatorships do not agree to the treatment or cannot agree to it.
How do you know if a relative needs a conservatorship?
If your relative is in one of the following circumstances, it may be time to think about conservatorship:
- Is struggling to feed themselves, bathe, pay the bills, or complete other daily tasks
- Is seriously impaired from an accident or medical condition such as a stroke
- Has a developmental disability
- Is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia
Conservatorship is not for everyone, and not everyone is impaired enough to need court intervention. Talk to a lawyer before you go down this road to see if there is a viable alternative.
Are there alternatives to a conservatorship?
Absolutely. When a conservatorship is not appropriate, consider some of these alternatives:
- Informal care arrangements with family or friends
- Advance health care directive
- Living trusts
- Power of attorney for finances
- Joint title on bank accounts or other assets
Again, talk to an estate planning lawyer about your options for alternatives to conservatorship.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.