A conservatorship can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called the "conservatee") cannot take care of themselves or their finances. Then the judge chooses another person or organization (called the "conservator") to be in charge of the conservatee's personal care or finances or both.
Conservatorship of the person means the Court appoints a conservator to help a person take care of his or her daily needs. Conservatorship of the estate means the Court appoints a conservator to help a person take care of his or her finances. Often a court will appoint a conservator to manage both the conservatee's daily needs and finances.
The conservator of the person performs functions such as:
- Arranging for the conservatee’s care and protection
- Deciding where the conservatee will live
- Making arrangements for the conservatee’s:
- Health care
- Personal care
The conservator of the estate performs functions such as:
- Managing the conservatee’s finances
- Locating and taking control of the conservatee’s assets
- Collecting income due to the conservatee
- Making a budget to show what the conservatee can afford
- Paying the conservatee’s bills
- Investing the conservatee’s money
- Protecting the conservatee’s assets
- Being responsible for accounting to the Court and to the conservatee for the management of the conservatee’s assets
There are several types of conservatorships. In each type, the Court may appoint a conservator of the person, a conservator of the estaten or both.
A. Probate Conservatorships
Probate conservatorships are so called because they are based on laws found in the California Probate Code and it is the most common type of conservatorship. A probate conservatorship may be a general or a limited conservatorship. In addition, a temporary conservatorship may need to be set up until a permanent conservator can be appointed.
General Conservatorships are set up for adults who cannot handle their own finances or care for themselves. The conservatee is often an older person with limitations caused by aging, but may also be for younger people who have been seriously impaired (e.g., as the result of an accident).
Limited Conservatorships are set up for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their property, but who do not need the higher level of care given under a general conservatorship.
Temporary Conservatorships are set up when a person needs immediate help. A judge may appoint a temporary conservator of the person or of the estate, or both, for a specific period until a permanent conservator can be appointed. The temporary conservator arranges for temporary care, protection and support of the conservatee and protects the conservatee's property from loss or damage.
B. Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships must be set up to arrange for certain kinds of very restrictive living arrangements and extended mental health treatment for people unable to provide for their own needs for food, clothing or shelter as a result of a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism and who cannot or will not agree to the arrangement or treatment voluntarily. Although a private citizen may be appointed as an LPS conservator, the appointment process must be started by a local government agency, usually a county's public guardian's office.
You can view the Judicial Council’s Self Help Website for additional information regarding conservatorships and the forms that are required in these cases.