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My Adult Loved One Is Losing Control. How Do We File a Conservatorship in Los Angeles County?

Nurse helping elderly woman in wheelchair at home

A conservatorship, as it’s called in California, is given to somebody who petitions the court to give them control over an aspect or some aspects of another adult’s life. This is usually done because the adult is incapacitated in some way, due to disability or old age. However, a person can become subject to a conservatorship (“conservatee”) if they have another problem, such as mental illness or alcoholism.


When should I petition for conservatorship?

Conservatorship is not to be taken lightly. It’s done to help an adult who is in serious need, but it’s also a very big responsibility.  The conservatee is going to lose rights. If you, the conservator, take control of the conservatee’s finances, you’ll be paying their bills, but you’ll also be in charge of their investments. If you’re in control of their medical decisions, it’ll be up to you to decide what’s best for them when it comes to healthcare.

You will most likely fail to get your petition approved, if you petition for conservatorship because you simply don’t like the choices the conservatee makes. Adults are legally free to choose to engage in most behaviors that don’t harm other people. This may actually include behaviors that are harmful to themselves. A court is more likely to grant conservatorship when the conservatee is incapacitated in some way and is unable to make sound decisions.

So, you should petition for conservatorship when you honestly and truly think that this is in the best interest of the conservatee because he or she can’t take care of themselves, is in danger or at risk, or has demonstrated an inability to handle adult responsibilities. Conservatorship is granted on a case-by-case basis. The court will not only look at whether or not the conservatee can take care of themselves, but they’re also going to determine whether or not the petitioner is capable of taking care of the conservatee.

How do I petition for conservatorship?

Anyone who wants to become a conservator in Los Angeles County must petition the appropriate state court. They have to demonstrate why the conservatee needs someone to make decisions for them, and why they personally should be the one to do it. A judge will determine if this is appropriate. Any changes to the conservatorship has to be approved by the court. A conservatee is free to contest a proposed conservatorship, and it’s common that they do, so be prepared.

I think that somebody needs a conservator, but I don’t think I can do it. What should I do?

You may petition the court to act as Conservator, or A Los Angeles County elder law attorney can assist you to find a professional conservator to take over the decision-making from someone who’s unable to do for themselves. A professional conservator has the tools and the knowledge to take care of your loved one.

Before you petition, it’s best to speak with a Los Angeles County elder law attorney to find out if conservatorship is appropriate. If so, they can help you draft your petition and navigate the court system and procedures.  If you’d like to schedule an appointment at our Encino law firm, simply call (818) 905-6088.