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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Estate Planning Lawyer In Sacramento Talks Conservatorships

April 17, 2014

Every once in a while, we see situations where some celebrity seems to be going off the deep end, and someone—usually a parent—is named as their “conservator.” But, what exactly does this mean, and are out-of-control starlets the only ones who need conservatorships? As a Sacramento lawyer, it is sometimes necessary to get involved with creating conservatorships for a variety of reasons.

What Is a Conservatorship?

Most commonly, conservatorships are used to give a person authority to make financial or health care decisions for another who is unable to make sound decisions on their own. We’ve seen this play out publicly and spectacularly in situations such that of Brittney Spears a few years ago.

The conservatorship results from a court proceeding in which someone is appointed to the role of conservator. This person is typically a family member and the areas he or she oversees could include the person, the estate, or both of these things. A conservatorship over a person allows the conservator to make decisions regarding day-to-day living and medical choices. Conservatorships over an estate give the conservator the authority to make financial choices. In both cases, they are bound to act in the best interest of the conservatee and are often monitored by a court investigator who reports back to the court.

Who Needs a Conservatorship?

While the cases of young Hollywood stars make the big headlines, these are not necessarily the people most lawyers in California are working with when it comes to conservatorships. Conservatorships are most often established when seniors are having difficulty caring for themselves and/or their finances, or for young adults with disabilities.

Obviously a conservatorship is not something to be considered lightly, but it is available for good reason. Someone who is unable to provide food, clothing, and shelter for himself or herself may well need someone else to step in and take on those responsibilities.

There are some telltale signs that might let you know a conservatorship should be considered:

  • Bills are piling up
  • Considerable amounts of unopened mail
  • Personal grooming and hygiene is lacking
  • Utilities have been shut off
  • Property taxes are unpaid
  • The house is no longer kept up

Many of these signs coincide with the onset of dementia, and as a person’s memory fades, the ability to keep up with daily responsibilities also deteriorates. Lawyers in California understand that there are times when it is in an individual’s best interest to have a conservatorship in place for his or her own protection.

As mentioned, it isn’t just the elderly who may require a conservatorship. There are a wide variety of reasons that a younger person might be in need of this kind of guidance and oversight, too. In order to keep this power from being abused, conservatorships must be granted by a court of law.

If you have questions about conservatorships and whether they would be applicable in a situation you are facing with a loved one, the best place to start is with a Sacramento conservatorship attorney. He or she can advise you of your rights and walk you through the legal steps you will have to take to start the process.

We are available to help you answer such questions. Simply call our Fair Oaks law firm at (916) 241-9661 and ask to schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session.

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Heather was wonderful. She explained, in understandable terms, why it is important to establish an estate plan. I never realized what would happen, without a plan in place, and we could not bear the thought of our child in arms of absolute strangers while the court system sorted out his future.

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