Conservatorship Disputes

A woman qualifying for conservatorship

The high-profile case of singer Britney Spears has recently brought conservatorship disputes to global attention. But celebrities aren’t the only ones utilizing conservatorships. 

Suppose a close friend or family member is recovering from a serious accident, suffering from a severe physical or mental illness, or aging and losing mental or physical capacity. 

In that case, they may need your assistance with tasks like finding housing, getting medical care, or depositing checks in the bank. Even if the condition is just temporary, a conservatorship can be the best option for you to care for your loved one.

Consider consulting a California conservatorship lawyer for assistance and guidance when using a conservatorship to protect a loved one. Alternatively, an attorney may assist you in getting rid of an incompetent or dishonest conservator or ending a conservatorship that is no longer necessary.

What Is a Conservatorship?

In a conservatorship, a responsible adult or organization is granted legal authority to manage another adult’s care or financial affairs if they cannot do so independently.

A conservatee is a person who is unable to take care of themselves. The conservator is the individual or entity the judge designates to carry out this task. A conservator may be a relative, a close friend, or a qualified person.

Two Types of California Conservatorship 

In California, there are two different kinds of conservatorships. First, a General Probate Conservatorship is for all people who cannot meet their own needs because of an illness, age, or injury which prevents them from taking care of themselves or makes them vulnerable to improper influence.

Second, a Limited Probate Conservatorship is appropriate if the person has a developmental disability. The conservator’s authority is restricted in this sort of conservatorship to allow the impaired person to live as independently as possible.

Can a Conservatorship Be Disputed?

Conservatorships are intended to protect individuals, but whether they are successful or not ultimately depends on the individuals or entities chosen to hold that position. 

Some conservators may act in their own interests rather than the interest of the people they are required by law to safeguard. In other cases, a person who was previously unable to make wise judgments recovers and regains the ability to manage their own affairs. 

Likewise, a person with impaired capacity may believe he or she has covered yet continues to act in a way that raises red flags.

A conservatorship dispute may arise when events like these take place. In these circumstances, the subject of the conservatorship may ask for its termination or modification, or the subject’s family or other interested persons may ask for the conservator to be replaced. 

What Happens If Conservatorship Disputes Arises? 

When a dispute arises, a court will hear testimony from all parties in these situations. Financial information, medical data, and an assessment of the conservatee by impartial experts may be included as evidence. 

A court will decide once all the testimony and evidence have been presented. Depending on the judge’s assessment of what is in the best interests of the person under conservatorship, the order may be terminated or changed, or it may remain in place under the same terms.

Common Conservatorship Disputes 

Sibling disputes about the best care for an aging parent are a common conservatorship issue. If the parties’ mother develops dementia, for example, one sister could want to sell the family home and put their mother in a facility, while another might like to keep the house and arrange for in-home care. 

In such situations, two or more siblings or other interested parties may file a conservatorship petition, competing in court for the right to make the most important decisions.

If a conservatorship is no longer necessary, whether it should be terminated may also be disputed. Perhaps the conservatee required a conservatorship in the past due to illness or injury, but has since healed or regained their full faculties, making them once again capable of making their own decisions.

In other cases, conservatorships are contested for malicious intentions. Conservators may steal or misappropriate cash, exaggerate the cost of reported expenses to pocket the difference or engage in other self-serving behaviors that exploit their privileged access and control over assets, creating a complex dispute between parties.  In other cases, even an innocent conservator may be accused of misconduct if one or parties, sometimes including the conservatee, wants to terminate the conservator or change the terms of the order. 

Who Can Contest a Conservatorship?

Anyone with a relationship to the conservatee, or who has a stake in the conservatee’s personal interests or assets, may dispute a conservatorship. Often the beneficiaries named in the conservatee’s will or trust become involved in the dispute, and family members, acquaintances, and even business partners are frequently parties in contention.

You should contact a conservatorship attorney in your area immediately if you believe a friend or relative’s conservator — or even your own conservator — has fallen short in faithfully representing a conservatee’s interests.  You should also find an attorney if you believe that an elderly loved one is being preyed upon and may need the protection of an order to protect him or her from elder abuse. 

Do I Need An Attorney Regarding My Conservatorship Disputes?

A conservatorship might be tough to modify or terminate. At Loew Law Group in San Mateo, CA, our attorneys assist families in finding workable solutions that protect the rights and general welfare of a conservatee or proposed conservatee.

Make an appointment to speak with a California attorney about a conservatorship, a trust, or any other area of estate preparation or administration.