Conservatorships and guardianships can be used to help care for children, minors, and incapacitated people who cannot make beneficial financial or healthcare decisions for themselves. The reasons that gave rise to the need for the conservatorship can vary, but in these arrangements, the appointed conservator or guardian assumes the decision-making responsibilities, and may take on roles which include overseeing bill pay, selecting a residence, making medical decisions, and investing money.
With your loved one’s comfort and security hanging in the balance, it is critical that you have professional guidance from an experienced Los Angeles conservatorships and guardianships lawyer. Attorney Robert Hoffman can help you make valid, comprehensive, and effective legal arrangements for the care of your children and relatives, so that you can feel confident going into the future.
It is never too early to start planning. Contact the Hoffman Law Offices today at (800) 897-3915 to arrange for your confidential and free initial consultation.
What Are Conservatorships? How Do They Work?
Factors like severe injury, illness, or degenerative mental conditions can sometimes make it impossible for individuals to make thoroughly considered and competent decisions for themselves. If one of your loved ones is unable to handle their personal finances or to care for themselves physically or mentally, a conservatorship may be an appropriate legal strategy to provide them with structure that will lead to the support and guidance they need.
In plain terms, a conservatorship is a legal relationship in which a court-appointed individual or organization called a “conservator” is tasked with making important decisions on behalf of the person whom the conservatorship protects, who is known as the “protected person” or “conservatee.”
The conservator may be:
- A family member.
- A family friend.
- A licensed professional who has been appointed by the probate court.
Whoever is chosen to fill the role, the key responsibilities of the conservator will ultimately depend on the conservatee’s specific needs. For example, a conservator could oversee the estate, the protected person themselves, or both. However the conservator must exercise good faith in all dealing and must act in the best interests of the conservatee.
Different Types of Conservatorships
There are two main types of conservatorships:
- Limited Probate Conservatorship — Applies when the protected person is developmentally disabled. In this type of arrangement, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible.
- General Probate Conservatorship — This arrangement is for adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to advanced age, physical injury, dementia, or other conditions which either render them incapable of caring for themselves.
Generally speaking, a conservatorship ends when either:
- The protected person passes away.
- The conservatorship estate’s funds are depleted.
- The protected person regains the ability to handle his or her own personal/financial affairs.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Conservator
When the court chooses you to function as a conservator, you may be considered legally responsible for arranging for the protected person’s basic care, health, and safety. You may also be held responsible for deciding where the protected person will physically reside. Finally, you may be tasked with overseeing expenditures and decisions involving but not necessarily limited to the following:
So what are some of your specific responsibilities as a conservator? Generally speaking, conservators should:
- Manage the protected person’s finances.
- Protect conservatee income and property.
- Itemize everything included in the estate.
- Create a detailed plan addressing how the conservatee’s needs will be met.
- Make sure the protected person’s bills are paid.
- Invest the conservatee’s money responsibly.
- Make sure the conservatee receives whichever benefits he or she qualifies for.
- Make sure the protected person’s taxes are filed and paid on time.
- Keep accurate and timely financial records.
- Make regular reports of relevant financial accounts to the court and any other interested persons or entities.
What Are Guardianships? How Are Guardians Appointed?
While conservatorships are meant to provide care for ill and disabled persons, guardianships are intended to provide care for minors and children. When there is no parent to care for the child, a guardian can be appointed by the Probate Court to assume parental duties.
Many components factor into the guardian selection process. The judge may appoint a guardian based on:
- The child’s best interests, which is arguably the key factor.
- The parents’ wishes.
- The child’s wishes, provided the child is 12 or older and can make reasonable decisions.
- A petition for appointment of guardian.
- Court investigations.
Guardians have the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the child. After notice is given to other relatives and persons of interest, a court investigator will conduct interviews before submitting a recommendation to the court. The court will hold a hearing in which the judge may or may not appoint a guardian, depending on the child’s best interests. This is called a guardianship hearing, and gives a responsible adult custody of a minor child, power over the child’s estate, or both.
To start discussing your loved one’s care needs in a private consultation, contact Los Angeles conservatorships and guardianships attorney Robert Hoffman online or call at (800) 897-3915 today.