In December 2008, Peter Falk’s daughter petitioned the court in Los Angeles county to become the conservator of her father. Falk, noted for his role of Columbo on TV, has apparently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. His daughter Catherine claims her father requires full time custodial care for his health and safety and is unable to take care of his finances. The Los Angeles court appointed an attorney to evaluate Falk who has filed a report saying there is no grounds for a conservatorship. Falk’s wife of 32 years also opposes the conservatorship.
Conservatorships are probate proceedings where a judge appoints a responsible person called a conservator to care for another adult who cannot care for himself or herself or handle his or her finances. Any person who wants to be a conservator can petition the court to become the conservator. Usually it is the individual’s spouse or other relative although it can be a friend or even a state or local agency. The court will not grant a petition for conservatorship if there are other ways to meet an individual’s needs such as with a durable power of attorney, a spouse that can handle the care and finances, or a revocable living trust in place.
It will be interesting to see what the L.A. probate court does in the case of Peter Falk. Another hearing on the matter will be held soon. If you have questions about conservatorships or how to avoid them, call the experienced estate planning lawyers at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation for a complimentary consultation.