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Understanding conservatorship in California

It happens in many families where the roles reverse and adult children become responsible for the welfare of their parents. If a doctor has diagnosed your parent with dementia or other mentally impairing disease, it may be time to start taking steps to ensure that you will be able to manage affairs when the time comes.

In California, the court can appoint a responsible person or organization to act as the conservator for an impaired adult. For example, if your father's health is failing and he is no longer able to care for himself or manage his own finances, a conservatorship will grant you the authority to act on his behalf. The process of applying for conservatorship can be complex. An attorney can advise you on how best to proceed. Read further to find out more about who can file for conservatorship and the duties required by law.

Eligibility to be a conservator

Several people are eligible to file for a conservatorship. As a relative, you have the right to file for the position for your father. In addition, a spouse or domestic partner can also request to be a conservator. Other eligible applicants for a conservatorship include any interested state or local agencies, individuals or friends, or even your father himself.

When appointing a conservator, the court will base its decision on what is in the best interests of your father. If your father nominates you for the position while he still has the majority of his mental faculties, the court will more than likely approve the request. Typically, the court will only deny a conservatee's nomination if it decides the person or entity is not in his best interests.

Duties of a conservator

As your father's conservator, the law requires that you arrange for his care and protection. You will have to decide where your father will live and you will have to make arrangements for his meals, health care, personal care, and even his recreation. In general, you will have to attend to everything regarding his well-being. You will have to receive approval from the court for certain decisions about his health care and living situation. Also, you will have to file periodic reports with the court on your father's status.

Conservator of the estate

As the conservator of his estate, you will have to manage your father's finances, locate and take control of his assets, and collect his income. California also requires that you create and maintain a budget that your father can afford. Furthermore, you must protect his assets, responsibly invest his money and pay his bills. You will also have to provide accounting records to the court as proof that you are properly managing your father's financial affairs.

Conservatorships can be complex and time-consuming. If you have a parent that requires a conservatorship, it is important that you understand his or her rights. Enlist the help of a Los Angeles area attorney experienced with elder law for advice on obtaining a conservatorship for your parent.

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