Conservatorships & Guardianships
A guardianship is a court case in which the Court appoints a responsible person to (1) take care of a minor child and grants custody of the child to that person, and/or (2) manage the child’s property (called “estate”). Generally, guardianships are for children under 18.
A conservatorship is a court case in which the Court appoints a responsible person (a “conservator”) to care for another adult (the “conservatee”) for some or all of their personal and/or financial affairs. Generally, conservatorships are for seniors and those adults who may be dependent on others.
In California, there are two types of guardianships: guardianship of the person (legal custody and responsibility for the minor) and guardianship of the estate (legal responsibility to manage the minor’s assets). In the case of a guardianship of the estate, a child’s parent can be appointed to serve as guardian of the estate.
A guardianship of the person is necessary when a child is living with an adult who is not the child’s parent, and the adult needs a court order to make decisions on behalf of the child. The guardian has the same responsibilities to care for the child as a parent would, and is responsible for the minor’s food, shelter, health care, education, and emotional and physical well-being. The guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child and can make all the decisions about the physical care of the child that a parent would make. A guardian can be anyone: relatives, friends of the family, or other people suitable to raise the child. A guardianship is not the same as an adoption.
A guardianship of the estate is necessary when a child has income, money, or other property that needs to be managed until the child turns 18. A child may need a guardian of the estate if the child owns or receives valuable property, such as when a child inherits money or assets. In California, if a child inherits or is to receive more than $5,000 (unless the person who left the money to the Child arranged for the money to go into a trust), a guardianship of the estate is required for a person to have authority to collect and manage the Child’s assets on their behalf. Kevin J. Moore & Associate’s probate attorney, Debby Doitch, has represented numerous clients in guardianship cases and is an expert in establishing a guardianship when a minor child is a beneficiary of an estate and ensuring that the child’s assets are protected.
Similar to guardianships, conservatorships can also be of the person, estate, or both. In addition, there are different types of conservatorships, including general conservatorships and limited conservatorships.
A general conservatorship applies to adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances,and/or who may be susceptible to undue influence and fraud. These conservatees are often elderly people, but can also be younger people who have been seriously impaired, like in a car accident or suffering from addiction or other illnesses. A limited conservatorship applies to adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their finances, but do not need the higher level of care or help that conservatees in general conservatorships need.
In cases like this, the Court can establish a conservatorship and appoint a person as conservator to aid and protect the conservatee, and who will have the authority to make decisions on behalf of and for the conservatee. Debby Doitch skillfully represents clients in cases where there is a need to petition the Court to appoint a conservator. As conservator of the person, the conservator is responsible for the conservatee’s food, shelter, health care, education, and emotional and physical well-being. As conservator of the estate, the conservator is responsible for managing the conservatee’s finances and estate, and has authority to act on behalf of the conservatee. There a number of people who may file for conservatorship including: spouses or domestic partners of proposed conservatees, the actual individual conservatee, the relative of proposed conservatee, or an interested organization or agency.
If you have more questions about guardianships and conservatorships, or would like to request an appointment to discuss a guardianship or conservatorship, please call our office at 626.568.9300.