What is a conservatorship? Do I it needed?
Conservatorships are like a guardianship but for an adult or an adult requesting that the court allow him to take custody and control of another adult. We really try to avoid it if we can.
A famous example of this is Britney Spears a few years ago. Her father got a conservatorship over her because she was dealing with drugs and different things.
This should be a difficult process and it is. The more common situations are somebody that is dealing with a learning disability, has special needs, etc.
A more common example is a child who has special needs and their parent has been the guardian of them until they were eighteen. Now they’ve turned eighteen and the parent (who is now the parent of an adult) still needs to have custody over this person. With those situations, we try to keep the cost as low as possible because a lot of times it’s not about helping them with the money, it’s about helping them with their regular lives.
The other situation and probably the most common is when somebody has come into dementia or Alzheimer’s and the child says, “Look, I have to take over. They’re making very bad decisions.” I’ve seen situations where suddenly checks are flying out the door to televangelist or Ponzi schemes. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it’s too late. The money just disappears.
The conservatorship is very similar to a probate. You petition the courts and say, “Look, I need to be in charge of this person and here’s why.”
In California, the court appoints a third party to go in and represent your loved one. This makes sure that somebody independent agrees that it should be used.
If you’re the good guy you can say, “Hey, court this is what we want.” They’ll then send out a great person to go meet them. They will appoint them their own attorney and then if it’s the way you say it is, they’ll get appointed.
The problem is it’s very expensive. A simple set of advance healthcare directive and power of attorneys could almost always avoid this. That gives the person the ability to say, “Look, this person is incapacitated. I already have the authority to make medical and healthcare decisions.” This is hugely important because if not, conservatorship’s the way we have to go and it is very difficult.
Many times the conservatorship is done at the end of someone’s life and if they pass away during the conservatorship process it’s just a waste of money and time.
If you ask the hard questions and make the tough decisions, sometimes it brings up things you don’t want to think about right now. But if you do them early, it can save you a lot of trouble, headaches, and money in the end.