Conservatorship: Michael K. Lanning, APLC

Under U.S. law, a conservatorship is a way for someone to assume legal guardianship over an adult’s financial and everyday life. Families use conservatorships to help deal with the mounting medical, financial, and mental health needs of a parent or other family member. The status of a conservatorship depends upon the individual’s capacity to make their own decisions.

It’s almost impossible to discuss conservatorships without thinking about the Britney Spears controversy and her father’s role as a conservator. After ten years, the singer won her case in court to remove her father’s role as conservator. The legal aspects of conservatorship are complicated; control is not easily won, particularly over a person’s finances. To determine whether a conservatorship is advisable or necessary for your family’s situation, you need the help of a financial advisor.

Getting Started

There are six basic steps to get started:

  1. File a Petition for Conservatorship with the court
  2. File a Confidential Supplemental Information Form
  3. File a Confidential Conservatorship Screening Form
  4. File a Duties of Conservator Form
  5. Serve Notice on the Conservatee
  6. Provide Notice to the Conservatee’s Relatives

All you must do is glance at these to recognize what the pitfalls might be. You may have someone incapable of handling their affairs but still mentally equipped to know what is being taken away from them. Other family members may also present roadblocks. If you are considering conservatorship, be ready for a legal battle on several fronts.

Principles of Conservatorship in California

The state particularly suggests that other pathways be explored before conservatorship. We all need help at times, but that does not necessarily mean someone else takes over all of your decisions. These alternatives are particularly relevant to conservatorships over seniors if another assistance is available.

  1. Only establish a conservatorship when there is no less restrictive alternative.
  2. Before deciding a person with a disability needs a conservatorship, the individual’s ability to make choices and alternate ways to help the person make decisions must be considered.
  3. A conservatorship should be time-limited and reviewed regularly.
  4. Conservatees can receive training to limit the need for a conservatorship if they wish.
  5. If a conservatorship is established, conservators should act in concert with the conservatee’s wishes and needs.
  6. In making substituted judgment determinations, services and supports should be in the least restrictive environment that fosters the person’s intellectual or developmental potential.
  7. Conservatees have the right to seek to remove a conservator acting in a way that goes against the conservatee’s wishes and needs.
  8. Conservatees have the right to dismiss a conservator without limitation.
  9. Conservatees have the right to speak in court during their conservatorship hearing.
  10. Only persons or entities independent of the service funding and delivery systems may perform conservatorship functions.
  11. Conservators should receive adequate training to perform their duties.
  12. Conservators must perform their duties consistent with the standard laid out by the courts.

A Complex Process

You’ve figured out by now that seeking conservatorship is not going to be easy. You cannot hope to approach the legalities involved in taking control of another person’s financial life without a good deal of scrutiny. And justly so. You will need the guidance of experts who have been there and done that.

Let’s Talk about Conservatorships

Thinking of applying for conservatorship for an elder relative or another relative? The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC, have worked with many clients to sort out the details. Contact us at 310-820-1600 or go to our website to learn more and set up a consultation.

We serve West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Manhattan Beach, and the surrounding Los Angeles communities.

The Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC

11777 San Vicente Blvd.

Suite 750

Los Angeles, California, 90049

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