Deciding to apply for a conservatorship is a big decision for a family. You’re deciding that one of your loved ones is no longer capable of caring for themselves. That might be because of age or an injury, but no matter the cause, it will be a difficult decision.
On top of that decision, you must go through a complicated and confusing legal process to receive court-approval for the conservatorship and the ability to make decisions for your loved one. A conservatorship attorney can make that process less-stressful and more efficient for your family.
When Do You Need a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is for any adult who is either physically or mentally incapacitated. There are different types of conservatorships which dictate what decisions a conservator can make for the conservatee.
If you’re caring for someone who can’t care for themselves physically or can’t manage their own financial estate, you might need a conservatorship.
Types of Conservatorships
Depending upon the incapacity of your loved one, the conservator will be granted certain rights. Some conservatorships grant the conservator the ability to make medical decisions for the conservatee, while others grant the conservator the right to make financial decisions.
In certain cases, the conservator may be granted the power to make both medical and financial decisions for the conservatee. What powers are granted are dependent upon the needs of the conservatee.
It’s also important to recognize that a conservatorship and guardianship are different. In California, a guardianship is for people under 18. A conservatorship is for people 18 and older.
Conservatorships of the Estate
If you’re applying to the court for a conservatorship of the estate, you’re seeking the power to manage the estate of the conservatee. As conservator of a conservatorship of the estate, you have the power to manage the conservatee’s financial decisions.
A conservatorship of the estate doesn’t give the conservator power to make medical decisions for the conservatee.
Conservatorships of the Person
In comparison to a conservatorship of the estate, a conservatorship of the person grants the conservator the power to make decisions about the person of the conservatee.
This means that a conservator with a conservatorship of the person can make medical and personal decisions.
Permanent, Limited, or Temporary Conservatorship?
Conservatorships can be divided by what powers they grant, how long they last, or who they’re for.
Depending on the condition of the conservatee, you may need a conservatorship for the rest of their lives or you may only need the conservatorship until they heal from their current condition. A temporary conservatorship is great for an adult who has suffered a debilitating physical or mental condition that leaves them incapable of caring for themselves for a period of time. In comparison, a permanent conservatorship is more helpful to those who are caring for an older conservatee or someone with dementia who will need care for the rest of their lives.
Another type of conservatorship is a limited conservatorship. A limited conservatorship is used very specifically for adults who are developmentally disabled. This type of conservatorship is considered limited because the powers of the conservator are limited to allow the conservatee to live as independently as possible.
How Does the Conservatorship Process Work
A conservatorship can only be granted by a judge. You must apply for the specific type of conservatorship you believe is right for your family and then wait for the investigation and approval.
The process of filing the right paperwork at the right time and knowing what information the court does and does not need can be confusing and stressful for family members who are seeking the ability to care for a loved one.
Why You Should Hire a Special Needs Attorney for Conservatorships
The process for applying for a conservatorship isn’t necessarily difficult, but there’s a lot of information to remember, paperwork to fill out, and court appearances to make. It can be overwhelming and stressful to go through the process alone.
That’s where a conservatorship attorney can be very helpful. A conservatorship attorney is a type of special needs attorney. Someone who has specialized experience in understanding and receiving approval for conservatorships.
1. You Want an Effective and Durable Power of Attorney
Deciding what type of conservatorship is right for family isn’t as simple as it sounds. A conservatorship attorney can help you to understand the nuances of each type of conservatorship and identify what will be right for your family.
If you apply for and receive the wrong conservatorship, you won’t have the power you need to care for your loved one. A conservatorship attorney helps you to get the right conservatorship and therefore have an effective power of attorney for your loved one.
2. Failing to Plan Ahead Will Result in a Court Appointed
During the application process for the conservatorship, an investigator will speak to the potential conservatee and the conservatee must appear at the hearing for the conservatorship, unless they aren’t able to due to illness.
At the hearing, the judge may determine that the future conservatee should be represented by an attorney. If that’s the case, the conservatee will be assigned a court-appointed lawyer. That lawyer may not be the best person to represent your family member.
If you hire a conservatorship attorney prior to the hearing, they will make sure you’re prepared with everything you need to protect the interests of the future conservatee and therefore will not need a court-appointed lawyer.
3. You Need the Attorney to File a Petition For Conservatorship
During the application process for the conservatorship, someone must file a petition for conservatorship with the court clerk. The person who files the petition is known as the petitioner.
The petitioner cannot be the same person as the potential conservator. That’s considered a conflict of interest. When you hire a conservatorship lawyer, they can file the petition for conservatorship for you.
4. An Experienced Lawyer Knows The Whole Process
The application process for a conservatorship is a multi-step process that requires an application, filing paperwork, a court hearing, and an investigation. An experienced conservatorship attorney is experienced in this process having done it many times before.
By hiring an experienced conservatorship attorney, you’re hiring a guide who can help you to make the best decisions for your family members and to navigate the conservatorship application process with ease and less stress.
5. The Citation Must Be Delivered by a Person Who Isn’t Part of the Conservatorship
Part of the application process for a conservatorship is to formally notify the proposed conservatee. This is known by the courts as a citation.
When the citation is delivered to the proposed conservatee, it must be done so by someone who will not be part of the conservatorship.
A conservatorship attorney not only knows how to create the citation so that it will be legally enforceable, but they can also deliver the citation as a neutral third party who will not be part of the conservatorship.
6. The Conservatorship Attorney Can Help You to Fill All the Required Forms
When applying for a conservatorship, there are a lot of forms that must be filled out and submitted. Issues with this paperwork can result in a denial of the conservatorship. Filling out the paperwork properly the first time can save your family from an unnecessary denial of the conservatorship and from having to go through the process a second time.
An experienced conservatorship attorney can help you to fill out all the paperwork you need to submit to the courts for the conservatorship application process and make sure they have the proper information that the court will need.
7. The Attorney Will Make You Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in The Process
There are many pitfalls and potential mistakes that you can make along the process of applying for a conservatorship. A conservatorship attorney can help you to avoid those mistakes and to seamlessly guide you through the application process.
Without a conservatorship attorney, you’re more likely to make mistakes on your own.
8. You’ll save time
More than anything else, a conservatorship attorney will be able to help you save time and lower your stress level during the application process for a conservatorship. Transitioning a parent or loved one from being independent to being dependent is emotionally difficult for families.
To navigate a legal system on top of that already present emotional stress can be extremely difficult. A conservatorship attorney helps to guide you through the process efficiently and with minimal mistakes which can save you time.
If you need to set up a conservatorship, you can get a free consultation with a reliable conservatorship attorney in San Diego today. Kam Law Firm is experienced in setting up conservatorships, limited conservatorships, and also has experience as a special needs trust attorney.