Limited conservatorships are generally obtained by parents with highly disabled children. The purpose is to give the parent(s) the legal authority to make decisions for their child who has reached the age of majority (18+).
Limited conservatorships are called this because they offer the court the ability to narrowly tailor the conservatorship to match the needs of the individual. The goal is to allow the disabled individual to maintain as much control of their lives as they are able. There are six areas in which decision making can be granted to the conservator:
- Decide where the limited conservatee will live (NOT in a locked facility).
- Look at the limited conservatee’s confidential records and papers.
- Sign a contract for the limited conservatee.
- Give or withhold consent for most medical treatment for the limited conservatee (NOT sterilization and certain other procedures).
- Make decisions about the limited conservatee’s education and vocational training.
- Give or withhold consent to the limited conservatee’s marriage or domestic partnership.
- Control the limited conservatee’s social and sexual contacts and relationships.
- Manage the limited conservatee’s financial affairs (for a limited conservator of the estate).
In understanding limited conservatorships in California, one should note that there are two different types, limited conservatorship of the person and limited conservatorship of the estate. In the former, the conservator cares for the disabled person’s daily needs and protects her. In the latter, the conservator manages the financial affairs of the disabled person, doing things such as paying bills and collecting the income of the disabled person. Generally, if the individual’s sole income is through public assistance, no conservatorship of the estate is necessary.
The decision to obtain a limited conservatorship is an important one. In general, when one obtains becomes a conservator, she takes over the decision-making power for another adult. Because the freedom to make choices concerning one’s own life is a basic civil liberty, this power can only be taken from one individual and granted to another by the courts.
When is a limited conservatorship necessary? In general, courts prefer alternatives to conservatorship where possible. Because of the deprivation of civil rights entailed, the courts encourage people to seek out alternatives. Such things as educational powers of attorney, court authorized medical treatment, informal personal care arrangements can sometimes stand in place of a conservatorship of the person. Rather than obtain a conservatorship of the estate, such things as living trusts, joint title to bank accounts, and substitute payees of public benefits are acceptable alternatives.
There are certainly good reasons to establish a conservatorship of the person if the individual is severely disabled. Following are some instance where a conservatorship would be a necessary or positive asset:
- The disabled is much younger emotionally and socially than adult age and needs protection.
- A medical institution requires a limited conservatorship before they will perform an operation on the disabled adult.
- Due to a lack of impulse control, the disabled person signs contracts for cells phones and other such items but lacks the ability to understand the consequences of their actions.
- Parents want to decide where or who with their adult child can live.
- Frequently, schools will will not consult with the parents of disabled adults but their continued advocacy is required.
While it is possible to obtain a limited conservatorship on one’s own, it is usually advisable to obtain an attorney. There are numerous complicated forms to complete, mistakes can delay the process, and in some instances a limited conservatorship can be contested by either the public defender or the regional center.
If you are currently seeking an Orange County limited conservatorship attorney, please contact The Law Office of Gregory R. Branch for assistance. Gregory R. Branch, Esq. may be reached at 714-856-1166 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.