Ensuring the Well-Being of Your Loved Ones
A conservator is appointed by the probate court upon application of an interested party to assume responsibility for the property or the personal welfare of a person over 18 years of age. The conservatorship process is both invasive and expensive, and in effect, represents the loss of the person's civil rights, most often on the grounds of mental incapacity. As a last resort, however, it can be an effective tool for the protection of a vulnerable person's assets or physical well-being.
For more information about conservatorships, contact an estate planning attorney at Thompson Von Tungeln.
When Are Conservatorships Necessary?
When a spouse or parent suffers from Alzheimer's disease or other cognitive impairments due to illness, accident, or advancing age, a conservatorship proceeding might be necessary to ensure that the person is properly cared for or that he or she does not squander their assets. It is not unusual for the person to resist the appointment of a conservator, and contested conservatorship proceedings can be some of the most painful actions in probate court.
Even if a conservator of the person or property is appointed, the annual court review of the conservatorship and the expenses of the detailed accounting once or twice a year can be burdensome. Conservatorship proceedings should only be undertaken when there is no alternative to the protection of the incapacitated person.
How an Estate Plan Can Help
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid the need for conservatorship proceedings through simple estate plans:
- The execution of a durable power of attorney can save the need to appoint a conservator of a person's property during a period of incapacity
- The similar designation of an agent in an advance health care directive will achieve the same purposes as the appointment of a conservator
- The designation of a successor trustee to serve during a period of incapacity under the terms of a revocable living trust also avoids the need for conservatorship proceedings
- Most importantly, the procedure for recognizing these appointments is much less cumbersome
If you have questions about California conservatorship proceedings, or if you would like to avoid the need for a conservator by providing for incapacity in your estate plan, call an estate planning lawyer at Thompson Von Tungeln at (661) 945-5868.