There are generally three types of conservatorships:

General Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults who cannot care for themselves or their finances. These conservatees are often elderly people but can also be younger people who have been seriously impaired, like in a car accident, for example.

Limited Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their finances. Conservatees in limited conservatorships do not need the higher level of care or help that conservatees in general conservatorships need.

Mental Health Conservatorships – also known as LPS conservatorships.  These are instituted by the County Public Guardian’s office and are not discussed here.

General Conservatorships

When a conservatorship is needed immediately, the court may appoint a temporary conservator until a general conservator can be appointed. The request must be filed as part of a general conservatorship case and can be filed either at the same time or soon after the general conservatorship case is opened with the court. The main duties of a temporary conservator are arranging for the temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee and protecting the conservatee’s finances and property.

The duties of a conservator of the person are to:

  • Arrange for the conservatee’s care and protection.
  • Decide where the conservatee will live.
  • Make arrangements for the conservatee’s living arrangements and personal needs
  • Get approval from the court for certain decisions about the conservatee’s health care or living arrangements.
  • Report to the court on the conservatee’s current status.

The duties of a conservator of the estate are to:

  • Manage the conservatee’s finances.
  • Locate and take control of all assets.
  • Collect the conservatee’s income.
  • Make a budget to show what the conservatee can afford.
  • Pay the conservatee’s bills.
  • Responsibly invest the conservatee’s money.
  • Protect the conservatee’s assets.
  • Account to the court and the conservatee for the management of the conservatee’s assets.

Read the Handbook for Conservators to learn more about conservatorships.

Setting up a conservatorship is a long and complex process. Before asking the court to appoint a conservator, the person asking for the conservatorship should be sure this is an appropriate arrangement for the proposed conservatee.

Limited Conservatorships

A limited conservatorship is a court case where a judge gives a responsible person (called a “limited conservator”) certain rights to care for another adult who has a developmental disability (called a “limited conservatee”).

Limited conservatorships are for adults with developmental disabilities. Developmental disability is a severe and chronic disability due to a mental or physical impairment that started before age 18. Limited conservatorships are set up to assist developmentally disabled adults who are unable to provide for all their personal or financial needs.

If a developmentally disabled minor will soon be 18, it is often a good idea to start the process of requesting a limited conservatorship a few months before the developmentally disabled person’s 18th birthday. But, keep in mind that a limited conservatorship can be established at any time after the person with the developmental disability has reached age 18.

The Superior Court Probate Department will supervise the limited conservator. Someone from the court investigator’s office will review the case 1 year after the conservatorship is granted, then every 2 years after that. The investigator will call the conservator to update the court’s file. The investigator will also visit the conservatee.

Limited Conservator’s Duties.  Because developmentally disabled people can usually do many things independently, the judge will only give the limited conservator power to do things the conservatee cannot do without help. The conservator may ask the court for the powers to:

* Decide where the limited conservatee will live (NOT in a locked facility).
* Look at the limited conservatee’s confidential records and papers.
* Sign a contract for the limited conservatee.
* Give or withhold consent for most medical treatment for the limited conservatee-(NOT sterilization and certain other procedures).
* Make decisions about the limited conservatee’s education and vocational training.
* Give or withhold consent to the limited conservatee’s marriage or domestic partnership.
* Control the limited conservatee’s social and sexual contacts and relationships.
* Manage the limited conservatee’s financial affairs (for a limited conservator of the estate).

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June 2023