For those caring for elderly relatives in Orange County, there may be relief knowing that the senior has a medical directive, power of attorney and/or trust in case he or she becomes incapacitated. However, it’s also possible that there is no guiding documentation to help when the relative is unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf. In California, adult guardianships, also called conservatorships, may be the only way to ensure your relative is cared for in later years.

Who needs a conservatorship?

 Spouses can make decisions for each other. A well spouse will make medical and financial decisions for an incapacitated spouse. However, if the incapacitated adult isn’t married or is married to another incapacitated adult, then that adult may need a guardian.

 Adults who can no longer make sound decisions for themselves when it comes to finances and health are generally good candidates for receiving a conservatorship. There may be medical signs that an adult needs a conservator, such as the presence of an illness that impairs decision-making ability, like Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, or developmental disability. Other signs that an adult needs a conservatorship may include inability to pay bills, keep track of money, or communicate effectively with health professionals.

Incapacitated adults who don’t have family nearby may find that hiring a professional conservator is much more preferable than uprooting the incapacitated adult. Even if family is nearby, taking care of the financial and legal needs of another adult takes a lot of time and energy, so hiring someone to do the work can bring peace of mind.

 Who can be a conservator of an adult?

 Technically, any fit adult could be an adult guardian, but they’re usually family members or professional guardians, like attorneys. An attorney working as a guardian is also known as a law guardian or a guardian ad litem, and they specifically work for the best interests of the incapacitated adult.

How to get an adult conservatorship

 An Orange County judge grants a conservatorship if an adult can’t make decisions for him or herself and if the adult hadn’t previously named a power of attorney, healthcare agent and/or trustee. Anyone who wishes to be a conservator must file with the court. From there, a judge will allow or deny it.

What do I do to become someone’s conservator?

While you can do this yourself, navigating the court system and keeping abreast of the case may prove to be too much, especially if anyone contests your bid for conservatorship. A Newport Beach elder law attorney can help you understand what is required from you and if this is the action you want to take. If so, an elder law attorney can help you with every step of the process along the way.  If you’d like to discuss your options and your best path forward, please feel free to call our office at (949) 260-1400 to set up a consultation.