Conservatorship FAQs

Conservatorship - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I find information about an advance health care directive?

A:  Click for information about an advance health care directive.

Q: If I become conservator of the person, will I automatically become conservator of the estate?

A:  No. If you want to become conservator of the estate, you must petition for that. You can do it at the same time as you file your petition for conservatorship of the person or you can file a separate petition later. To do this, follow the same procedures as when you asked to be appointed conservator of the person and request to be appointed conservator of the estate as well.

Q: What is a regional center?

A: Regional centers are nonprofit corporations that have contracts with the California Department of Developmental Services to serve people with developmental disabilities.

In California, people with developmental disabilities have a right to services they need to live independent, productive, normal lives. The state must provide services for each person with a developmental disability at each stage of his or her life, regardless of age or the degree of the disability. These state services are provided through the regional centers.

See a directory of regional centers in California.

Get more information on regional centers and the California Department of Developmental Services.

Q: When should the Public Guardian be conservator?

A: The court can sometimes appoint the Public Guardian as conservator. This usually happens when someone makes a referral. Referrals can be made by:

  • Adult Protective Services (APS),
  • A relative,
  • A neighbor,
  • A doctor,
  • A police officer,
  • The court, or
  • Another interested person.

For more information, or to make a referral, contact the Public Guardian in your county by searching for "public guardian" and the name of your county. If you think there is financial abuse, call the Adult Protective Services hotline: 1-800-414-2002.

The state takes financial abuse cases seriously and may file criminal charges or a civil suit.

Q: When should I apply for limited conservatorship?

A: If you are trying to establish a limited conservatorship for someone who will soon be 18, it’s a good idea to start the process more than 3 months before the developmentally disabled person’s 18th birthday. However, you can establish a limited conservatorship at any time after the person with the developmental disability has reached age 18.

Parents, brothers, and sisters who may act as limited conservators should talk to the developmentally disabled person so they know what is best for his or her medical care, living arrangements, education, and training.

Remember: You do not have to establish a conservatorship. If there is no conservatorship, the director of the developmentally disabled person’s regional center has the power to make most legal decisions for him or her. For example, the center can make medical decisions and choose where the developmentally disabled adult lives.

Q: Can I choose a conservator in my will or living trust?

A: No. Only the court can appoint a conservator.

Q: Can I pay myself a salary from the conservatee’s funds?

A: No! But you can ask the court to authorize a payment to you based on services provided. The court will determine the amount of reasonable expenses and “just and reasonable” payment for services provided.

Q: What if the conservator moves somewhere else in California?

A: The conservator must give the court and the court investigator’s office the new address. The conservator must file a Notice of Change of Address (Form MC-040) with the court.
 
If the conservatee is the one moving, the conservator has an obligation to let the court know at least 15 days BEFORE the move. The conservator has to file a Pre-Move Notice of Proposed Change of Personal Residence of Conservatee or Ward (Form GC-079). In some circumstances, the conservator may need a court order for the move.

Q: If I am the conservator, can I be sued if the conservatee hurts another person or damages someone’s property?

A: No. Unless you are found personally negligent for the damage caused.
But you can be charged with a crime if you take financial advantage of the conservatee or if you willfully neglect or abuse him or her.

Q: Do I need a conservatorship to place my relative in a nursing home?

A: It depends. If a person does not object to going into a nursing home, a relative may sign the admission agreement as an agent or as a “responsible party” to place a person in a nursing home. That “responsible party” may not make medical care decisions on behalf of the individual unless he or she has authority to do so as an agent under a durable power of attorney for health care or as a court-appointed conservator.   But if a person objects or is unwilling to go to a nursing home, a conservatorship is required.

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