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California court-appointed conservators

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on November 25, 2014

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You may have recently read about actress Amanda Bynes who has been, for some time, under the care of her mother. This raises in what our opinion some interesting issues, as her mother has California court-appointed conservatorship over her.  And that significant responsibility is one worth discussion.

In California, a judge may legally appoint a Conservator to manage the affairs of another adult, called the Conservatee.  This situation can occur if there is strong evidence that the Conservatee is incapable of providing for their own needs and/or that they cannot manage their financial affairs.  There can be a Conservator of the Person, a Conservator of the Estate, or a Conservator who is responsible for managing both. The Conservator of the Estate is a matter generally under the auspices of attorneys in the area of estate planning law; a family attorney might be more often involved in matters related to the person.

Before proceeding any deeper into this topic, it is important to understand the following: persons with legally established powers of attorney (along with other advance directives for care, and other legal instruments that comprise an estate plan) would, most likely, not ever face a situation requiring conservatorship. This blog only posits such a situation by way of example, to demonstrate how a family law attorney might become involved.

In order to have a conservator appointed, the person or persons concerned must petition the court. These persons may include:

  • The person who needs help (proposed conservatee)
  • That person’s spouse or partner
  • Family member/relative
  • Other interested person or friend
  • Other interested organization or entity

In the news story mentioned above, the Conservator was indeed a family member, the mother of the Conservatee.   Obviously, the Conservative’s health and well being are foremost in terms of priority; however, the responsibilities of a Conservator extend further as well. Since the Conservatee was a performer, if financial affairs were involved, an assumption could be made that a great deal of money, assets and property might have been endangered, had the court and the family not become involved.

Families and relationships continually evolve. Careers, health problems, and other unpredictable events and forces can affect lives, often drastically, often without warning. This may be especially true for high net worth individuals with substantial assets, which may be accompanied by substantial responsibilities. In such eventualities, the counsel of an experienced family law attorney can help minimize problems and achieve the best possible outcomes for even the most unexpected situations. A family member requiring Conservatorship is only one, however unlikely, example of these.

Once again, please keep in mind that the content of this blog is intended not as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. Should you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about conservatorship or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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