El Dorado Hills Elder Law Attorney
A Conservatorship can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called the "conservatee") can't take care of themselves or their finances. Under the law, this means a person is "gravely disabled."
Then the judge chooses another person or organization (called the "Conservator") to be in charge of the conservatee's care or finances, or both.
The court can say you are:
- The conservator of a person,
- The conservator of an estate, or
When the court chooses you as a conservator, you are responsible to the court. You take on certain jobs and responsibilities. The court can examine everything you do as a conservator.
The Conservatee's Rights
A conservatee does not lose all rights. They can still have a say in important decisions. They have the right to:
- Be treated with understanding and respect;
- Have their wishes considered; and
- Be well cared for by you.
There is a another type of conservatorship for those who are in need of treatment for a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism but are not willing or incapable of accepting it voluntarily. It is known as a LPS Conservatorship.
The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act) covers services to individuals who are recommended for conservatorship by the doctor in charge of an LPS treatment facility designated by the county (Welf & I C §5352).
- Gravely disabled," as defined in Welf & I C §5008(h), is a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental disorder or impairment by chronic alcoholism, is unable to provide for his or her basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter. The "historical course" of the patient's mental disorder must be considered when applying the definition of mental disorder.
- The most common illnesses are serious, biological brain disorders, like:
- Bi-Polar Disorder (Manic Depression),
- Schizo-affective Disorder,
- Clinical Depression, and
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
- Under Welf & I C §5350(e)(1), a person is not gravely disabled if he or she can survive safelywith the assistance of a third party.
- NOTE: In some counties, the use of subpayees to receive and handle public assistance benefits on behalf of persons otherwise unable to provide for their own needs has greatly reduced the frequency of LPS conservatorships of the estate.
- Unless family, friends, and others specifically indicate in writing their willingness and ability to help, however, they must not be considered willing and able to provide this help. Welf & I C §5350(e)(2). The writing requirement is intended to alleviate the painful necessity of public testimony from family members who are unwilling to provide third party assistance. Welf & I C §5350(e)(3).
- Even if a third party offers assistance, the court may still determine that the assistance offered, though well-intentioned, is not sufficient to permit the conservatee to survive safely.
Conservators have extensive powers, including placement powers authorized by the court underWelf & I C §§5358 and 5358.6. See §§23.99-23.125. LPS conservators with estate powers have the general powers defined in Prob C §§2400-2586, and such independent powers defined inProb C §§2590-2595 as the court may authorize. Welf & I C §5357.
An LPS conservatorship is usually not appropriate for a person with dementia, for whom a probate conservatorship with dementia powers under Prob C §2356.5 is generally more appropriate.
It is very important to have an attorney who understands the law of Conservatorships. Peter Vlautin has been involved in the Law of Conservatorships for over 30 years. He has handled Conservatorships from all sides and has done jury trials on the issue of "grave disability."