What Is A Conservatorship – And How Can You Avoid It?
It may be sad, but it is also often a fact of life: sometimes people get older, and ill, and sometimes either because of age or disability, they are unable to care for or manage their own affairs. They may need help managing their day to day affairs, particularly their financial affairs. When that happens, it may be time to ask the court for what is known as a conservatorship.
What is a Conservatorship?
In a conservatorship, someone is appointed to run and manage the affairs of the sick person. A conservatorship can be general, where the conservator manages all the affairs of the sick person—financial, and personal. Or, it can be limited, where the court will look at the person, and try to limit the conservator’s responsibilities only to what the conservatee cannot handle, thus allowing the individual to have as much power over his or her affairs as possible.
In the wider ranging, general conservatorship, the conservator may do as much as deciding where the conservatee will live, to what meals he or she will wear, to arranging transportation and entertainment scheduling. The conservator will pay the conservatee’s bills, finances, and provide an accounting as to how the conservatee’s money was spent, to the court.
Who Needs Conservatorships?
Conservatorships can help those who may be suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or similar diseases. It can also apply for younger people, who may have mental illness so severe that they are unable to care for themselves or for their finances. It may also be appropriate for people with Down’s syndrome or other lifelong illnesses or diseases. A conservatorship can also be set up for people with demonstrated alcohol addiction problems.
Of course, everybody is different, and just because someone has a disease or a diagnosis doesn’t mean they need a conservator. The court will usually appoint a conservator from a list of relatives; California probate law provides an order of priority of who should serve as a conservator.
In an emergency situation, the judge can establish a temporary conservatorship, which will usually last between 30-60 days, until a determination can be made whether the conservatorship should carry on further.
To prove that someone needs a conservator, you must show that they need one by a clear and convincing evidence standard.
Estate Planning Can Avoid Conservatorships
One thing that estate planning can do, is avoid the need for a court appointed conservator, or the requirement to file anything in court at all. A good estate plan, which has trusts, and designates who will manage what part of your affairs if necessary, allows you to take the control out of a court’s hands, and plan for your future if you are in a position to need help.
Call the Torrance wills attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today to discuss how your estate plan can avoid probate actions.