Orange County Conservatorship Attorney
What is Conservatorship?
Within California courts, conservatorship is a legal term that refers to an individual that is deemed gravely disabled by the court and unable to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter without relying heavily on others for these basic necessities of life.
How is a Conservatorship Established?
A conservatorship can be established by a court order with regard to individual persons, or by a statutory or regulatory authority when it is associated with an organization.
How To Get A Conservatorship
To obtain a conservatorship in California, it is recommended to consult with a knowledgeable Irvine conservatorship lawyer who specializes in conservatorship matters. A conservatorship is a legal arrangement where a responsible person or entity is appointed by the court to make decisions and manage the personal and financial affairs of an individual who is unable to do so themselves due to physical or mental incapacity.
At Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC, our conservatorship attorneys have over 50 years of shared experience in handling conservatorship matters. We understand the complexities involved in establishing and managing a conservatorship and are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation.
To obtain a conservatorship in California, you will typically need to follow these steps:
- Gather Evidence: You must provide proof that your loved one is no longer capable of managing their own and their finances. Get in touch with their doctor to complete a capacity declaration that attests to the conservatee’s level of mental competence. Speaking with your loved one’s caretaker may be helpful as well.
- Contact an Irvine Conservatorship Lawyer: Although an attorney is not necessary for filing for conservatorship in California, doing it yourself may cost you more in the long run. A conservatorship may not be granted if there is even the slightest bit of doubt in your claim. An experienced attorney at Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC can help present your case in the best way on your petition and help you gather evidence.
- Petition for Conservatorship: If you are interested in the welfare of the proposed conservatee, you must file a petition with the court. The petition will include details about the conservatee's condition and why a conservatorship is necessary. The form typically asks for information about yourself, the conservatee, and other family members.
- File a Confidential Supplemental Information Form: Allows you to add more details on the information you provided in the petition -- it is a place where you can call up specific examples from the conservatee’s life.
- File a Confidential Conservator Screening Form: Covers more about you and your relation to the conservative as well as your background and more. Things such as your criminal background are covered -- the court must ensure that you are an upstanding citizen and will not exploit your loved one.
- Read and Sign the Duties of Conservator Form: This provides details about the rights of your conservatee and the powers that you will have if you are granted conservatorship. Be sure to read and sign the acknowledgment, and don’t breach your fiduciary duty.
- Investigation: The court will appoint an investigator to assess the situation and provide a report outlining the conservatee's incapacity and the need for a conservatorship.
- Service Notice: Notice of the conservatorship proceedings must be provided to all interested parties, including the conservatee and their close relatives.
- Hearing: A court hearing will be scheduled where evidence will be presented, and the judge will determine whether a conservatorship is necessary and who should be appointed as the conservator.
- Conservatorship Management: Once a conservator is appointed, they will assume the responsibilities of managing the conservatee's personal and financial affairs, subject to court oversight.
By working with an experienced conservatorship attorney in Irvine, you can navigate the complex legal requirements, ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed accurately and timely, and effectively present your case to the court.
If you are seeking a conservatorship, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation and benefit from our extensive experience and dedicated support. Let us guide you through the conservatorship process and provide the compassionate legal representation or counsel that you need.
Why Choose Our Orange County Firm?
Here are some excellent reasons why you should choose Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC:
- Serving Orange County for over 50 combined years
- Detailed understanding of California estate & probate laws
- We offer top-rated counsel for even the most complex matters
- Focused on the individual needs of each client
If your family member is unable to make legal decisions on their behalf, we urge you to contact an attorney from Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC to schedule a consultation to discuss the possibility of conservatorship. Our team of legal professionals understands how unfamiliar and overwhelming estate planning and probate matters can be. If you are looking to seek a conservatorship so that you can care for a loved one, we can be of service.
Our Orange County conservatorship attorneys can help you with matters that include:
Why You Need a Lawyer for Conservatorship
Conservatorships are generally enforced for severely mentally ill individuals, those who are gravely disabled, individuals with developmental disabilities, and elderly adults with dementia or Alzheimer's disease who lack the capacity to properly care for themselves. With a conservatorship case, mental capacity can be evaluated and determined by experts in the medical field or the field of psychiatry with their findings being admitted into court as evidence.
A conservator's duties may include the following:
- Locating and controlling assets and property that belong to the conservatee
- Using those assets to buy food for the conservatee
- Securing and paying for placement in a facility which will take care of the conservatee
- Paying the conservatee's bills
- Managing the conservatee's real estate property and paying their property insurance
- Paying the conservatee's mortgage or rent
- Paying for maintenance of the conservatee's property
A conservator may also have medical responsibilities if the court grants medical authority to him or her. In general, conservatorship is only granted over an estate if the conservatee has assets that need to be managed and protected. In California, the laws regarding conservatorship are governed by the California Probate Code, and the California Welfare and Institution Codes.
The Dangers of Undue Influence
Anyone can be at risk, but elder adults or ill individuals are especially endangered as they become more reliant upon the physical and emotional support of others. An influencer observes an opportunity for personal gain through controlling another’s decision, usually by means of disillusionment and persuasion.
Undue influence is the process of controlling another’s free will by means of excessive persuasion, resulting in that person’s lack of choice and causing them to act against their free will. Undue influence comes in many forms, and can have a detrimental impact on a person’s mental and physical health, and their estate.
Critical Indicators of Undue Influence
- Excessive gifting by the influenced, or large amounts of time spent with one individual.
- Change in behavior of the adult such as eating habits, everyday routines, even likes or dislikes.
- Isolation from family or friends, discontinuing regular visits with friends.
- Interference in the process of communicating with the individual, or the influencer always present when attempting to communicate.
Conservatorships Inhibit Undue Influence
Conservators are appointed by the court to oversee and manage another person’s estate. When a judge considers an individual incapable of managing their own personal or financial affairs, a conservator may be appointed to protect the welfare of the individual helps to prevents undue influence, as well as elder abuse, because financial and personal thereafter made by the conservator.
Two Types of Conservators
There are generally two types of conservatorships: a conservator of the estate, and a conservator of the person.
- A conservator of the estate handles financial affairs such as income, debt, public assistance benefits, assets, and other business and financial decisions.
- Conservatorship of the person involves care of the individual’s personal needs, such as meals, health care, transport, and living arrangements. Depending on the case, one conservator may be appointed to serve in both roles, or there may be a separate conservator for each role.
Every Conservatorship Case is Different
There are a variety of options when it comes to designating a conservator. An individual, legally authorized state official, bank, or Trust Corporation may all serve as conservators of the estate. The conservator must be approved by the court and will depend on the complexity of the person’s financial situation.
For the conservatorship of the person, a non-profit organization can be selected to handle personal matters, but usually a court selects an individual, such as a family member. Nursing homes and hospitals cannot serve as either form of conservator, and banks may not be appointed as conservator of the person.
They Are Held Accountable
Every conservator must report to the court annually. Typically, conservators of the estate must submit an initial report of all financial information and are held accountable to report accurately each year. Most court systems work towards the goal of “least restrictive means of intervention”, allowing conservators to manage the situation while also enforcing necessary checks and balances.
This allows the conservator to manage someone’s affairs in a manner that is consistent with their wishes as described in an estate plan. If you need help with conservatorships in California.
Learn More About Conservatorship in California Through Our Blog
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