If you have been nominated and approved by the court as the conservator of the person of another individual, you have certain duties and responsibilities.
As the conservator of the person, it will be your responsibility to see to the personal needs of the conservatee. One of these needs is the living arrangements for the conservatee. This may be the conservatee’s own home with caregivers, an assisted living facility, or a locked facility that specializes in patients who have Alzheimers or other memory issues. The conservatee has been adjudged to be incapable of taking care of himself, so it is your duty to select an environment that is safe, physically and emotionally. You also are responsible for seeing that the conservatee has clothing, food, and medical care. This may mean purchasing clothes and hygiene items for the conservatee, grocery shopping if the conservatee is living in his or her own home, and seeing that the conservatee gets to doctors’s appointments. It also can involve transporting the conservatee and seeing that the conservatee has recreational activities. If there is a separate conservator of the estate of the individual, you have to work with the conservator of the estate since that person will be approving the expenses and paying the bills.
You also have ethical obligations to the conservatee. You will have to respect the wishes of the conservatee and realize that even a conservatee has the right to make or change a will, get married, and have a lawyer. If possible, you should consult with the conservatee about decisions you are making and make efforts to promote independence. Medical treatment should be in keeping with the conservatee’s wishes if he or she is able to communicate their preferences. The court will also require that you periodically file a Level of Health Care Plan outlining where the conservatee is living, how the person’s needs are being met, and whether the environment in which the conservatee is living is the least restrictive in view of the circumstances.
A great resource for any conservator is the Conservator’s Handbook which you can purchase from the San Diego Probate Court. It is also available online. Every situation that could arise while acting as a conservator is addressed in detail.
If you are contemplating petitioning the court to be someone’s conservator, the estate planning lawyers at Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation can assist you and answer any specific questions you may have pertinent to your situation.