Conservatorship Lawyer in Orange County
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.
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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 or 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 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.
Contact our firm as soon as possible to speak with a conservatorship lawyer and learn how we can provide the guidance that you need.
We are in the business of helping families just like yours plan for the future in the most sensible and beneficial ways possible, and we are proud to have been successful in that effort. Read the testimonials of our previous clients to understand what it's like to work with our Orange County estate planning attorneys.
“Ms. Reinheimer's excellence in these areas is clearly apparent.”- Susan B.
“Tamsen is an extremely thorough, proficient and creative attorney.”- Tina M.
“A very professional service in an easy to understand approach”- Teresa Y.
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