What is a conservatorship in California?

Many people put off estate planning because they are afraid to confront the thought of their own mortality. Next to death, when it comes to aging, people usually fear declining health. Yet, the sad reality is that many Californians will see their health significantly deteriorate as they age. There may even come a point where their medical condition leaves them unable to make important financial and healthcare decisions on their own. Under these circumstances, an individual may be deemed incapacitated, and a guardianship may be created to protect him or her.

Adult guardianship, also known as conservatorship, is the process through which an individual is given the responsibility of caring for the financial matters of an incapacitated individual. Once a conservator is named, that individual will be required to post a bond. The purpose of this bond is to reimburse the incapacitated individual in the event that his or her assets are mismanaged. Then, within 90 days of the creation of the conservatorship, the appointed individual must submit to the court an inventory of the incapacitated individual's assets as well as a plan for how to manage the incapacitated individual's affairs.

The process does not end there, though. A conservator must also submit an accounting report after the first year, and subsequent reports must be filed every two years thereafter. An investigator may also meet with and interview a conservator from time-to-time. The purpose of these reports and interviews is to determine if the incapacitated individual's estate is being handled appropriately.

While a court can appoint a conservatory after an individual becomes incapacitated, a better route is to name one in an estate planning documents. This way, in the event that the unthinkable happens, a trusted person will handle one's financial matters, which may include dealing with estate planning issues. To learn more about conservatorships and how best to plan for one, consider reaching out to an attorney.

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