Benefits and Disadvantage of California Conservatorships
In light of the media surrounding the Britney Spears Conservatorship, there have been a lot of interest about the duties of a California Conservator.
A conservator is a person who appointed by a court for the benefit of someone who has become incapacitated, or unable to make decisions related to their well-being and finances, also known as the conservatee. (Need more information? See our article on: California Conservator vs. Agent Under Power of Attorney.)
So, what are the benefits of a conservatorship in California?
The main benefit of a court-appointed conservatorship is that the court will provide supervision and control over the conservator. This means the decisions relating to the conservatee, or the person at risk, will always be monitored by the court. In order to monitor these sorts of proceedings, the conservator of the estate is required to provide the court with financial information. The conservator of the person must provide information related to the conservatee’s health, safety, and welfare.
For example, on the financial side there is also a required Inventory that the conservator of the estate must file with the court. This is a list of all of the conservatee’s assets, liabilities, income, and debts. Additionally, a conservator for the estate is required to file periodic reports with the court, demonstrating how these assets have grown or diminished, how the conservatee’s money income has been spent, and any disbursements made. This report is required after the first year of appointment and every other year after that. The conservatee and/or their counsel is entitled to a copy of all reports made by the conservator, along with any interested party.
Another benefit is the court oversight of the conservatorship. If there is any information that appears to be inaccurate in the conservator’s reports or court filings, the courts can request further information or hold a hearing to investigate. This protects the conservatee against any potential breaches of fiduciary duties or any mismanagement of conservatee’s funds. (For more information about a conservator’s duties, see: Duties in a Conservatorship.)
However, there also some disadvantages to a conservatorship.
One significant disadvantage is the court process, which can be the expense. For example, a conservatorship can includes court costs and fees as well as potential attorney fees. This doesn’t include the costs of third-party professionals. Since the court remains involved in the entire matter and reviews any reports or court filings by the conservator, the overall costs can be high.
Additionally, another disadvantage is that if a conservator is appointed, the conservatee will have a substantially limited ability to manage their own financial affairs or make decisions related to their health care, housing, or other personal decisions. For most incapacitated individuals, this may not be a significant disadvantage, as they are unable to make these decisions for themselves. However, this can be this could be embarrassing or frustrating for some conservatees.
Overall, it is important to weigh the need for a conservatorship. Is a conservatorship the least restrictive means to assist the person with limited capacities? Or are there more appropriate alternatives? You should speak with an attorney to see what is best for the incapacitated person before making the decision of petitioning for a conservatorship. If you are considering a conservatorship for someone you know, please contact our office.