A conservatorship is a court process to appoint a legal guardian for an adult who cannot care for themselves. Modernly, one famous example is the conservatorship of Britney Spears by her father. This court-mandated arrangement lasted for more than a decade.

While the Spears case may be the most popularized, it is more common for an adult to need a conservatorship due to dementia, mental illness, developmental disabilities, or an injury or condition that limits an individual’s decision-making abilities. The conservator maintains legal authority over care aspects of the conservatee’s life. Our Los Altos conservatorship lawyers can help you set up and operate a conservatorship.

Probate Conservatorships

When a probate conservatorship gets established, the court appoints a conservator to be responsible for the adult conservatee. The court typically chooses a family member as conservator, but may choose a neutral third party like a friend, bank, or California licensed professional fiduciary when a family member is not available or to avoid family conflict.

The court can create a conservatorship of the person, controlling the medical care and living environment, a conservatorship of the estate, controlling finances, or both. A conservatorship of the person is established for people who cannot manage their own personal care and maintenance while a conservatorship of the estate is for persons who are vulnerable to financial undue influence.

Limited Conservatorships

A limited conservatorship can be requested for an adult with a developmental disability (autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disability, or a similar condition) and who receives services from one of California’s regional centers. In most cases when there’s a developmentally disabled adult involved, the court structures the conservatorship to provide as much independence as possible.

Often, the parents of a developmentally delayed adult serve as conservators, although siblings and other family members can also serve.

For most adults with no income other than public benefits, a conservatorship of the person is allowed. A conservatorship of the estate is used where the disabled adult receives outside assets, like inheritance or lawsuit proceeds.

A conservatorship of the person means that the conservator has the right to control most decisions of the individual from their education, medical decisions, confidential documents, and living conditions. In both of these matters, you need legal representation. Contact Keyes Law Group, PC to learn how we can help. We offer free 30-minute consultations at our estate planning law firm serving Milpitas, North San Jose, and Campbell. Call us when you need a conservatorship attorney.


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