Attorney for Conservatorship

A lawyer specializing in conservatorship provides invaluable assistance to clients who need help establishing guardianship and exploring available options. Let’s delve into the role and responsibilities of a lawyer for conservatorship and understand the concept of conservatorship itself.

What Does a Lawyer for Conservatorship Do?

When individuals can no longer care for themselves in terms of healthcare and finances, the courts appoint a conservator to handle their affairs. In some cases, individuals may have already executed a durable power of attorney, which can eliminate the need for a conservator. However, in most situations, family members must turn to the courts to designate a caretaker or conservator.

Appointing a conservator can be a complex and time-consuming process. That’s why courts often recommend hiring a lawyer for conservatorship. This is the most suitable option because conservators must attend court proceedings, maintain detailed records, and regularly submit documents to the court. Additionally, having a professional attorney provides a sense of privacy.

By appointing an attorney, family members can ensure privacy when dealing with sensitive matters. More importantly, conservatorship attorneys are accountable to the court. They must provide regular reports to ensure that the conservator is acting in the best interests of the individual they are serving. Courts may also require conservators to seek approval before making significant decisions, such as terminating life support or selling real estate.

What Do We Mean By Conservatorship?

Conservatorship is a legal status where a court appoints an individual to handle the financial and personal matters of an incapacitated or minor person. A conservator may also act as a guardian responsible for the physical well-being and living arrangements of the person. While conservatorship and guardianship are generally separate roles, the same individual can fulfill both positions.

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Guardianship usually involves designating someone to oversee the medical and physical care of an individual with limited capacity. On the other hand, conservatorships can be classified as limited or general. In a general conservatorship, the conservatee has minimal decision-making authority. In a limited conservatorship, the conservatee retains control over personal and financial affairs, except for what the court assigns to the conservator.

It’s important to note that the terminology for conservatorships may vary across jurisdictions. In some states, conservatorship is referred to as guardianship, and conservators may be called trustees. For example, in California, both positions are known as conservatorship, with the guardian role referred to as “conservator of the individual,” and the financial role termed “conservator of the estate.”

What Are The Types of Conservatorship?

There are two primary types of conservatorship, depending on whether it is for an individual or an organization/business.

  • Individuals: A conservatorship can be established by a court order for a minor or an individual with intellectual or physical disabilities. Individuals who require conservatorship may include those with dementia, psychosis, intellectual disabilities, or individuals who are unable to make legal, financial, and medical decisions due to suicidal tendencies. Older adults, especially those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, may also fall under conservatorship. A psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician with expertise in evaluating dementia or similar conditions must assess the mental capacity of the individual involved. Additionally, any diagnosis or determination must be documented and authorized before a conservatorship can be ordered. In some cases, individuals subject to conservatorship can petition the court to have it removed if they believe it is no longer necessary.

  • Organizations and Businesses: A conservatorship for a company or enterprise is established by a regulatory or statutory authority. In cases where the government has authority over private companies or establishments, conservatorship involves temporary control.

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Key Terms

To fully understand conservatorship, it’s essential to familiarize ourselves with some key terms:

  • Delegation of Authorities through a Power of Attorney: This allows a parent to grant someone authority over a child’s supervision, control, or possessions for a specified period. The parent can define the specific authorities granted to the individual, with some limitations regarding marriage or adoption. The parent can revoke this delegation at any time. It’s important to note that this does not affect the rights of the non-signing parent or establish guardianship.

  • Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): This is an individual appointed by the court to protect the rights of a person during a custody proceeding. If an individual is unable to make decisions in their best interest due to mental capacity limitations, they can request the court to appoint a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem assists the person in determining what is best for them legally, and if the person is unable to make decisions, the guardian ad litem acts on their behalf. In cases where a person cannot afford a guardian ad litem or there is no qualified person available, the Office of Public Guardianship may provide this service at state cost.

  • Incapacitated Person: An incapacitated person is someone who lacks the ability to obtain and process information or communicate decisions, making it challenging for them to care for their safety and physical well-being without court-ordered support. This includes providing food, healthcare, shelter, clothing, protection, and personal hygiene. Before appointing a conservator for an individual, the court must determine that the person is incapacitated.

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In summary, conservatorship is necessary when individuals are unable to manage their monetary, legal, or medical matters. Thankfully, there are several alternatives to conservatorship that can protect the financial well-being of minors. These alternatives include setting up a financial power of attorney, joint bank accounts or property ownership, or establishing a special needs trust.

However, navigating the legal system while dealing with emotional stress can be extremely challenging. That’s why it’s highly recommended to hire expert conservatorship attorneys who can guide you seamlessly through the process, saving you time and money. If you’re in need of a conservatorship attorney, consider Garrity Traina, our experienced and trustworthy team that specializes in conservatorship law.