Previously on this blog we discussed the role of a conservator in California and how he or she can play an important role in estate planning matters. As a quick recap, a conservator is an individual who is appointed by the court to care for an individual's daily care and health needs or the individual's financial matters when that individual is incapable of handling such matters on his or her own.
There are two types of conservatorships. The first is conservatorship over an individual, where an appointed conservator provides personal care for an individual who is incapacitated. This means that a conservator in this situation will be responsible for ensuring that the incapacitated individual has adequate food, health care, clothing and shelter. This type of conservatorship can carry great responsibilities, including making medical decisions that can have a profound impact on the incapacitated individual's life.
The second type of conservatorship occurs when a conservator is appointed by a court to handle an estate. Here, the conservator is responsible for the incapacitated individual's financial matters. While this may mean taking care of day-to-day expenses, it can also mean handling assets, including investments. Although a person can serve as a conservator over both an individual and the individual's estate, it is not automatic. A court must be petitioned in order to obtain a conservatorship over both the person and the person's estate.
When Californians engage in estate planning they don't like to think about the possibility of becoming incapable of caring for themselves. Yet, for many individuals this situation becomes a reality. How one's finances are handled during that period of time can have enormous consequences on an estate's financial health. In turn, heirs and beneficiaries can be tremendously affected. For this reason, individuals who are engaging in estate planning, as well as those who are concerned about a loved one's capabilities, should seek the help they need to better understand their options.