Torrance Conservatorship Attorneys

ElderWhen someone you care about has dementia, is vulnerable due to a disability, illness or life circumstance, legal protections may have to be put in place by you or another interested party to keep him or her safe. This is particularly true if that person is without an estate plan.

When the attorneys at Conover & Grebe, LLP, meet with estate planning clients, we put great emphasis on having all necessary documents prepared to avoid costly conservatorship proceedings. If, however, your loved one has not prepared her documents and is no longer able to manage her personal and/or financial affairs, you may need to contact a lawyer to help you initiate conservatorship proceedings with the court.

Your first step may be to call our office and tell us what difficulties you are experiencing at home with your loved one, or if you live far away, what friends and neighbors may tell you. You will end up sharing intimate details about your situation. For many people, this is not a comfortable process. However, the conversation is confidential, and your attorney will need to understand the facts you are facing in order to provide effective counsel.

Conservatorships: Torrance Conservatorship Lawyers

In California, conservatorships can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called the "conservatee") is unable to take care of herself or her finances. California law places strict rules on conservatorships, and an inventory and periodic accountings are often required.

On occasion, one of the involved parties disputes that the proposed conservatee has lost her capacity. The party denies that a conservatorship is needed due to age or disability. Sometimes, the evaluation of a doctor or even a geriatric psychiatrist is needed. That report is submitted to the Judge on a form called a "Capacity Declaration," which requires that doctor's opinion as to a lack of mental or physical capacity.

The imposition of a conservatorship needs to be carefully evaluated because it can improve the conservatee's quality of life. At the same time, it may reduce her capacity even more since she no longer handles her personal affairs or finances.

The initiation of a conservatorship involves a proposed conservator (often a spouse, a family member, professional fiduciary or friend) to file a court petition asking to be appointed to protect the proposed conservatee (an incapacitated spouse, parent, adult child, friend or neighbor) who is unable to provide for her own food, care and shelter, or is no longer able to manage her finances or resist the undue influence of others.

Having a court-supervised conservator can be extremely helpful in providing protection for the conservatee against financial and physical elder abuse. Once a conservatorship over the estate is established, the court will monitor the conservator by requiring him to file and explain required inventories and accountings. A conservator over the person will be required to file a care plan explaining how the conservatee's needs personal and health care will be managed.

At Conover & Grebe, LLP, we are experienced in all facets of conservatorship, including representing the proposed conservator or proposed conservatee as well as family members or interested parties seeking or opposing conservatorships. We also provide counsel to conservators of the estate, helping them in their general responsibilities and/or handling one specific item such as preparing and filing an accounting with the court.

A conservatorship is not always needed if other estate planning strategies are used. It is important to work with us on your estate planning strategy before loss of capacity, when you have many options available to help prevent legal and financial problems down the road.

Substituted Judgment Petition

Once a conservatorship is established, the court can authorize or direct the newly appointed temporary or permanent conservator to act for the conservatee in various instances to do things like transfer the conservatee's property. The conservator or an interested party may wish to file a substituted judgment petition to create a trust or will, make gifts, establish a special needs trust, minimize taxes or administration expenses during the conservatee's life or at her death. In short, a substituted judgment petition may be filed for the purpose of benefiting the conservatee's family, friends, care custodian, charity or other persons who would likely be beneficiaries of the conservatee's bounty. The court will most likely appoint counsel for the conservatee to ensure that her interests are protected.

The establishment of a conservatorship may not be necessary to achieve a client's goals. For example, if a spouse or registered domestic partner desires to make a specific transaction that deals with community property assets, a petition seeking approval of a single transaction may be more effective and cost-effective than the establishment of a conservatorship.

Limited Conservatorships

Our attorneys also offer representation in matters related to limited conservatorships.

Establishing a limited conservatorship, like a general or probate conservatorship, places significant restrictions on a proposed limited conservatee's civil and legal rights. Most often, the limited proposed conservators will the parents of a developmentally disabled adult who they have taken care of since birth.

Once the disabled child reaches the age of majority, her parents are no longer able to make personal and financial decision for her and therefore may seek a conservatorship of the estate and/or person. This can be established by the court in anticipation of the proposed conservatee's 18 th birthday.

There are different reasons why a family member may seek the imposition of such a conservatorship. It may be that a parent has run into problems at a group home where his daughter resides. It may also be because a parent encounters difficulties with the school district. For example, individuals with developmental disabilities are entitled to public education until attaining age of 22 under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. If a health care decision must be made on behalf of the developmentally disabled adult, medical personnel may question a parent's authority once a child has legally become an adult. Parents can seek our help in setting up a limited conservatorship for their now adult disabled child to protect her and assist her with her personal affairs and financial matters.

If the minor or adult disabled proposed limited conservatee may have sufficient capacity to nominate an individual to become her proposed conservator, such a nomination is helpful but not necessarily needed. The court appoints independent counsel for the proposed limited conservatee and the regional center provides an assessment and report the court prior to any appointment.

Contact Our Los Angeles County Probate Attorneys

If you are the spouse, a child, a friend, a neighbor or other interested party for a person who may need a conservatorship, talking with an experienced lawyer is the most effective way to determine whether a conservatorship is needed. We assist clients with general and limited conservatorships in the probate court. To talk with our South Bay conservatorship lawyers, we urge you to contact our law firm at 310-776-9028 or toll free at 866-661-9751 for a confidential consultation.