If you have noticed that the physical or mental capacity of your parent or other elderly loved one may be slipping, you may have many concerns about his or her well-being. In fact, you may have already discovered serious mistakes your loved one has made, such as missing the payment of a critical bill or forgetting to take important medications.

Whether this comes as an upsetting surprise or as something you expected because of your loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you know you should act quickly to protect your loved one’s estate as well as his or her well-being. Unless your loved one has named you as power of attorney, you may have no legal standing. However, by seeking conservatorship, you may obtain the authority to handle your loved one’s affairs.

What are my duties as conservator?

Taking on the role of someone’s conservator is a serious and weighty obligation. In California, conservatorship can include the management of either the personal or financial affairs, or both, of someone who no longer has the physical or mental ability to manage them alone. This can include any of the following and many other responsibilities:

  • Paying bills, managing investments and deciding what to do with certain assets, such as selling the house
  • Deciding whether your loved one will remain at home or enter a nursing care facility
  • Authorizing medical treatment and the release of confidential medical records
  • Maintaining a budget and a log of all expenses
  • Protecting your loved one’s assets, such as providing security for the residence and monitoring bank accounts
  • Providing a regular report to the court regarding your loved one’s estate and well-being

To obtain conservatorship, you will submit a significant amount of documentation to prove your loved one’s inability to manage his or her own affairs, and your loved one will likely undergo medical exams and interviews by professionals who will make recommendations to the court.

Seeking conservatorship for a loved one is an understandably lengthy and complex process. Courts do not want to rush such delicate and life-altering decisions. Therefore, you will want to make sure that your part in the process goes as seamlessly as possible and that you avoid any mistakes that could cost your loved one precious time under your protection. Enlisting the aid of a California attorney is a wise step to improving your chances of meeting your goals.