When a loved one becomes mentally impaired, it is usually a matter of time before they will need assistance taking care of their personal and financial affairs. Some common signs of diminished capacity are getting disoriented and lost when away from home, forgetting to take medication or leaving the stove on. When you see these signs, it may be time consider whether a conservatorship is needed. It is always best to deal with the situation before your parent becomes a hazard to themselves or others.
In many cases, you can take control of your parent informally, but in some situations more formal control or management of their affairs is necessary. Formal control may be required in order to have legal access your parent’s finances. Formality may also be necessary to prevent exploitation by others or in situations where your parent is refusing to accept the care or assistance they need. Conservatorship may be a solution, but it is not the easiest or least expensive solution, so discuss your alternatives with a Los Angeles California estate planning attorney.
What is a Conservatorship in Los Angeles CA?
A conservatorship allows a chosen individual to be appointed to manage the personal affairs of someone who has been determined incapacitated. A conservatorship must be established through a legal proceeding. Because of the serious nature of being found incapacitated and the resulting loss of individual rights, conservatorships should be the “last resort.” Conservatorships should not be considered merely because a person makes some decisions that you do not agree with. Nor should a conservatorship be sought based only on a disability or medical diagnosis.
Power of attorney may be a better option.
Although conservatorship may be necessary for some, it is usually something that should be avoided if at all possible. The best way to do that is to execute a durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances. These legal documents are not as complicated and require a much less expensive process than conservatorship. The most important benefit of a durable power of attorney is that the agent is chosen by the individual as opposed to the court. The named agent is authorized to take over without the supervision or approval of the court, which would be necessary with a conservatorship. It is best to execute a durable power of attorney in advance of any signs of diminished capacity, so your parent will still have sufficient legal capacity to create a valid instrument. Otherwise, a conservatorship may be the only course of action available.
Other alternatives to a conservatorship in Los Angeles CA
Some other alternatives can include revocable living trusts, protective orders, durable financial powers of attorney, advance directives for health care or joint bank accounts. In California, there is also another option — a Limited Conservatorship. A Limited Conservatorship is an option for adults with developmental disabilities who need assistance caring for themselves or taking care of their finances.