Becoming a conservator for another human being is a long-term commitment with many rewards. A conservator is someone with authority to help an adult who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. A conservator might be the conservatee’s spouse, relative, or friend. If there are no friends or relatives who are willing or able to provide the necessary aid, then a professional fiduciary or county agency may become a conservator.
There are two common types of conservatorships. A “conservator of the person” possesses authority to ensure that the conservatee’s physical health, food, clothing shelter, safety, comfort, and social needs are met. For example, a conservator of the person may be able to sign leases and home care contracts for the benefit of the conservatee. In contrast, a “conservator of the estate” possesses authority to help a conservatee manage his or her financial affairs. For example, some conservatees give away large sums of money to people they think are friends or even to strangers. A conservator of the estate may be assigned to help protect such a conservatee against fraud or undue influence. If a conservatee requires the aid of both a conservator of the person and a conservator of the estate, the same person may be appointed to act in both capacities.
In order to become a conservator, you must file a Petition with the court and nominate yourself to the position. Alternatively, another interested party may nominate you to be conservator. Once the Petition is filed, the court may set a hearing on the matter. If you are the Petitioner, you are responsible for properly notifying the proposed conservatee, his or her relatives, and sometimes others, of the hearing. Before the hearing, a court investigator will visit the proposed conservatee and independently evaluate the factual information in the Petition. You should cooperate fully with the court investigator and facilitate access to the conservatee. A positive investigator’s report may expedite the Petition for conservatorship.
The majority of conservatorship hearings are brief and uncontested. However, the proposed conservatee or other interested parties may object to the need for a conservatorship or to the appointment of a specific person as conservator. The court must look first to the best interest of the proposed conservatee when selecting a conservator.
If you are named conservator, the probate court will issue Letters of Conservatorship in order to specify the parameters of your authority. You will need to show or provide certified copies of your Letters to others as proof of your ability to act on behalf of the conservatee. Even simple or routine tasks, such as the entry of a change of address for the conservatee at the post office, may require certified copies of these Letters.
Find out more about how to become a conservator and the difference between a conservatorship and guardianship by calling (949) 647-4792 today. Bremer Whyte Family Law experienced probate attorneys can help you to assess your options and find the best solution for you and your loved one.