Conservatorships are legal arrangements in which a court appoints an individual or organization to manage the personal and/or financial affairs of another individual who is unable to do so themselves. In California, conservatorships are governed by the Probate Code and can be established for both adults and minors.
Two types of conservatorships
There exist conservatorships of the person and conservatorships of the estate. A conservatorship of the person is established when the court appoints a conservator to manage the personal affairs of an individual who is unable to do so themselves, such as making medical decisions or handling everyday activities. A conservatorship of the estate is established when the court appoints a conservator to manage an individual’s financial affairs, such as managing investments, paying bills and handling taxes.
Who conservatorships are for
In California, conservatorships are typically established for elderly individuals, disabled or mentally incapacitated. Establishing a conservatorship involves filing a petition with the court, which must be supported by evidence that the individual cannot manage their personal or financial affairs.
The court will then appoint an investigator to assess the individual’s capacity and make recommendations to the court. The court may also appoint an attorney to represent the individual (conservatee).
How conservatorships work
Once a conservatorship is established, the conservator is responsible for managing the personal or financial affairs of the conservatee. Conservatorships are intended to be temporary and are subject to periodic review by the court. The conservator is required to file regular reports with the court to keep the court informed of the conservatee’s status and to document any decisions made on behalf of the conservatee.
Conservatorships are often controversial and can be the subject of legal challenges. Critics argue that these arrangements can be overly restrictive and limit the rights and freedoms of the conservatee. Supporters argue that conservatorships are necessary to protect vulnerable individuals who cannot manage their affairs.
A useful tool that requires caution and oversight
Conservatorships are potentially controversial arrangements that have come under scrutiny recently due to cases like that of Britney Spears. While conservatorships are intended to be temporary and can provide valuable assistance to the conservatee, manipulative conservators can take advantage of vulnerable individuals who cannot manage their affairs.