A conservatorship occurs when the court appoints a person or an organization (the “conservator” ) to care for an adult (the “conservatee”) who cannot care for themselves or manage their own estate.

A conservator may be responsible for the care of the person, for the management of the person’s estate, or for both the person and the estate. 

Probate Conservatorships

A probate conservatorship is bound by the laws in the California Probate Code. There are two types of probate conservatorships:

  1. General – for adults who cannot take care for themselves or manage their own assets.
  2. Limited – for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully take care of themselves or manage their own assets. (The conservatee under a limited conservatorship does not need the higher level of care or assistance as would be necessary under a general conservatorship.)

Temporary Conservatorships

When the court determines that the conservatee has immediate needs that cannot wait until a general conservator is appointed, it may appoint a temporary conservator for a limited period of time until a general conservator is chosen. A temporary conservator may be responsible for arranging for the temporary care, protection and/or support of the conservatee, and/or managing the conservatee’s estate (within certain limits). 

Mental Health (“Lanterman-Petris-Short” or “LPS”) Conservatorships

An LPS conservatorship is used for the care of an adult with a serious mental health illness who needs special care. This type of conservatorship is only for adults who are severely disabled as a result of a mental illness listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Examples of such conditions include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and many others. The conservatee usually cannot or will not agree to specific living arrangements or treatments that are in their best interest.

This type of conservatorship must be started by a local government agency. It will last for a one (1) year period and must be restarted the following year should a longer timeframe be deemed necessary.

The LPS conservator must make decisions in the best interest of the conservatee. The conservator can be appointed to make decisions for the care of the person and for the management of the estate. The conservator can consent to mental health treatment and specific living arrangements for the conservatee, even if the conservatee refuses. The conservator can also consent to the use of psychotropic drugs as part of treatment, but the conservatee can refuse to take them if he or she is found to have the capacity to understand the situation and make the decision knowingly.

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