The San Diego County Courts hear many cases where a conservatorship is sought of an individual’s estate or person. When an individual cannot take care of his or her financial or personal affairs, it may be necessary to have the probate court appoint a conservator of the estate or of the person. A conservator of the estate is responsible for handling the finances of the conservatee. The individual appointed has broad powers to manage assets, write checks, make investments, etc. A conservator of the person is an individual appointed to make decisions about the conservatee’s personal needs such as health care, residence, food, clothing, etc.
A conservatorship can be an expensive process and may not always be necessary. Before the court appoints a conservator for an individual, it must be shown that no other alternatives are available to the proposed conservatee. These alternatives are durable powers of attorney, trusts, or the voluntary acceptance of assistance.
1. A power of attorney is a written document whereby one person (the principal) appoints another ( the agent) to act on his behalf upon incapacity. Powers of attorney for finances and for health care may provide a viable alternative to a conservatorship.
2. If the individual had a properly prepared revocable living trust, the successor trustee can step in and manage that individual’s affairs if the trustor becomes incapacitated. This needs to be done in advance of the incapacity however. Once the proposed conservatee lacks capacity, a trust cannot be created.
3. If the person who needs help with personal decisions will accept the help of relatives or friends about such things as medical care, food, clothing, and shelter, a conservatorship of the person may be avoided.
For more information about setting up a conservatorship or avoiding one by the preparation of a revocable living trust, contact us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation.