How to Apply for Legal Guardianship of a Senior Loved One
What happens if your loved one is no longer competent to make decisions about his or her own health care or finances? If the senior has not signed a power of attorney, a living trust or a will, you, or another family member, will need to take steps to protect the person. The first step you may consider is to ask the courts to appoint someone to oversee the senior’s affairs. California’s term for this authority is conservatorship (called adult guardianship in some states).
What is a Conservatorship?
• Conservatorships are legal appointments supervised by the courts. To request one, you will probably need a lawyer and understand that you must keep meticulous records and file periodic reports to the supervising court. This is meant to protect the conservatee’s estate from mismanagement.
• Most courts must approve all major decisions before the conservator can act. For example, the conservator cannot dispose of property or discontinue life support without court approval.
• A financial conservator is usually required to post a bond to protect the conservatee’s assets.
• There is reimbursement only for approved expenses.
• A conservatorship is expensive and time consuming and continues until the court dismisses the appointment.
With the above drawbacks, you may still want a conservatorship. If so, you can file the legal documents required with the court yourself, but you may want a lawyer to do it.
Alternative to Conservatorship
Legal issues can be avoided if a senior signs a durable power of attorney, a will, or a living trust before serious illness or competence issues arise. The senior can choose one person to manage his/her health care, another to manage financial matters, or one person can do both. If properly done, all three are legally binding without burdensome paperwork and expense. A senior can sign all three documents after the onset of competence issues. In that case, a competence test may be required.
Contact Always Best Care San Mateo today for more information about San Mateo CA elder care legal issues and a free consultation about the senior care San Mateo provided by the staff members at Always Best Care.