In my last Conservatorship blog post, we discussed the role of a Conservatorship and the differences between a Conservatorship of the Person and the Conservatorship of the Estate. Today, I want to generally discuss the question of “how.” How does one go about obtaining a Conservatorship?
When it comes to the process of petition for Conservatorship, the decision comes down to urgency and emergency. If there is urgency, because of elder abuse or even the less terrifying need to just pay bills and manage health care, you should petition for a Temporary Conservatorship. A person can obtain a Temporary Conservatorship within 5 court days. After filling out all the necessary Temporary Conservatorship paperwork, the documents must be filed with the Court. When the petition for temporary conservatorship is filed, the court will set a hearing within 5 Court days. If there is easily verifiable elder abuse occurring, or another verifiable emergency, the Court might be willing to waive that 5 Court day period of time.
At the hearing, the Court will be looking at whether it is in the best interest of the proposed conservatee to have somebody appointed to manage their medical and/or financial affairs. The Court will be hoping to personally question the proposed Conservatee regarding their personal wishes. However, the Court will understand that sometimes those in need of a Conservatorship cannot easily travel to Court or understand the proceedings. There can also be a clear difference between the proposed Conservatee’s wishes and what is in their best interest.
If the Court believes that it is in the best interest to to appoint somebody to manage the Conservatee’s financial or medical affairs, the court will issue an Order appointing a Conservator for that purpose. Then, the Conservator can show the Order to the Clerk’s Office to have Letters Of Temporary Conservatorship issued. The “Letters” document is the document that officially proves the existence of a Conservatorship.
Obtaining a regular Conservatorship is roughly similar to a Temporary Conservatorship. There are a few differences. Instead of filing the Petition and setting a hearing 5 Court days later, the Court will set a hearing for about 6-8 weeks later. The delay here is what requires people sometimes to file for a Temporary Conservatorship to provide protection for the Conservatee during this 6-8 week time period. The Court considers the same question for the general Conservatorship that it does for the Temporary Conservatorship: Is it in the best interest of the Conservatee to appoint a Conservator to manage their financial or medical affairs? The evidentiary bar is somewhat lower than at the Temporary Conservatorship hearing, because you won’t need to prove a present emergency.
If the Court believes a Conservator is necessary on a permanent basis, they will issue a new Order appointing a general Conservator. Then, the Conservator, or their attorney, can take that Order to the Clerk’s office for them to issue Letters Of Conservatorship. This document officially proves the existence of the general Conservatorship.
Conservatorship law can be complicated.
The Law Offices Of Matthew B. Talbot is here to help assist you during what can be a trying time. Matthew Talbot is an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. Please call us at 925 322 1795 to set up a consultation.