If it falls on you to make the tough decisions in your family, you may contemplate seeking a guardianship and/or conservatorship over a loved one who became unable to care for him or herself. As difficult as this decision is to make, carrying out the duties you agree to take on could prove a challenge as well.
Before you make the final decision to be the one who will take on this responsibility, it may help to know what your duties entail as a guardian or conservator.
Tangible personal property and real estate
After you inventory your loved one’s assets, it falls on you to determine what happens to those assets. You may decide that you should sell some property while keeping other assets. You may also determine that your family member, considered the “ward,” may need certain assets that you may purchase.
You decide where the ward’s liquid assets go. You also become responsible for investing it wisely on behalf of the ward.
Living and care arrangements
You decide whether the ward may remain living in the same residence or should move. You also determine what type of care he or she needs for physical, psychological and emotional concerns, along with any personal needs your family member may have.
Debts and taxes
You pay the ward’s bills whether they are for medical care or personal expenses. You also take on the responsibility of filing the necessary income tax returns and paying any taxes due.
Responsibility to the court
Even though the court appoints you as the guardian or conservator, you remain responsible for informing the court of your actions. You will file an accounting with the appropriate California court, outlining your activities on behalf of your loved one over the prior year, along with what you plan to do in the coming year. This includes all of the provisions you made for the above categories and any other decisions you made for him or her.
In some cases, you will need the court’s permission to take certain actions during the year.
You don’t have to do it alone
The enormity of these responsibilities may make you think twice about taking on this responsibility. However, you don’t have to go down this road alone. You may make use of whatever resources you need in order to perform your duties in good faith. This includes hiring an attorney to assist you.