What is a Conservatorship, and Do I Need One?

In California, a conservatorship is a legal proceeding by which a court appoints a person (conservator) to manage the financial affairs (conservator of the estate) or medical affairs (conservator of the person) of a person (the conservatee) when that person is deemed unable to manage their financial or medical affairs.

These proceedings are established for many reasons, but it primarily arises when someone lacks capacity due to a medical condition. Even if you have a Power of Attorney or Advance Health. Care Directive, simply having these documents in place is not always enough to avoid a conservatorship if they are not drafted with sufficient safeguards.

Many times, conservatorship proceedings are initiated by unwitting family members seeking to protect you but have a misconception about how your estate plan was designed and lack an understanding of the cost and procedures of conservatorships. Generally speaking, conservatorships are more harmful to a family because of the litigation and costs involved.

Similar to Pandora's Box, once a conservatorship proceeding is opened, it is very difficult to close. If you do not have an estate plan in place, it is extraordinarily difficult for a person to simply terminate the proceedings.

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