Limited Conservatorships

What is it?

A Limited Conservatorship applies to adult men and women who are Developmentally Disabled (DD). It is a court procedure which will give you many of the rights you had over your child as a minor, but lost when he or she reached 18 years of age. It is called limited because, depending on your child's level of intellectual development, he or she will be permitted to retain many of the powers which would otherwise be granted under this conservatorship process.

What powers are allowed under a Limited Conservatorship?

The judge will give to you as Conservator some or all of the following powers at the conclusion of a short court hearing.
  1. The power to decide where you child will live (other than a locked facility).
  2. Access to confidential records and papers.
  3. The ability to contract on behalf of your child.
  4. The ability to give or withhold consent for medical treatment (except sterilization and other specified medical procedures).
  5. The ability to make decisions for your child concerning his or her education and vocational training.
  6. The ability to place your child at a State Hospital for the Developmentally Disabled (a locked facility).
  7. Power over the estate of your child (control of his or her money).
  8. The power to give or withhold consent to marriage.*
  9. The power to control his or her social and sexual contacts and relationships.*
Note: 8 & 9 are only granted if the Judge believes that there is an immediate need.

When do I need a Conservatorship of the Estate?

You need a conservatorship of the Estate only if your child has assets other than income from S.S.I., S.S.A., or from a sheltered workshop or gainful employment. An inheritance or money from a lawsuit are good examples of other assets. You may continue to be the payee on S.S.I. and S.S.A. funds or allow the Regional Center that responsibility if they presently control the income from those checks. Your child will be permitted to administer his or her own funds earned directly through employment.

If the assets are already held in a trust for the person to be conserved, a conservatorship of the estate will not be necessary. A Special Needs Trust is often used to hold certain assets which would otherwise cause the DD person to be disqualified from receiving public assistance.

What if I don't have a Limited Conservatorship?

In the absence of a Limited Conservatorship, decisions about your adult son or daughter's shelter, medical care and other limited matters will continue to be made by the Regional Center.

How do I obtain a Limited Conservatorship?

An attorney will prepare the necessary paperwork and obtain a court date for a short hearing in the Superior Court of your county. At that hearing, you and your developmentally disabled child will be present. A medical excuse may allow your child to be absent from the hearing. In most counties, it is not absolutely essential that every person wishing to join in the Limited Conservatorship be present. The entire court proceeding may last no more than half an hour, with the actual time in front of the judge limited to, perhaps, five minutes.

A deputy public defender will represent your child at the hearing. Once granted, the Conservatorship will be reviewed one year later and every other year (biennially) thereafter.

Who may act as Conservator?

While any adult may act as a Conservator, usually parents and/or siblings of the developmentally disabled person apply. There is no set limit to the number of Conservators, but it is suggested that at least one parent and one sibling who is not developmentally disabled serve as co-conservators. This will avoid the necessity of returning to court upon the death of the Conservator to obtain a new Limited Conservatorship.

May I designate a Conservator by will?

No. Only the court can appoint a Conservator. Since the job of Conservator entails some responsibilities, it is suggested that considerations of geographic location and willingness to serve be paramount in the choice of Limited Conservators.

If I am the Limited Conservator, can I be sued if my child injures another person or property?

You cannot be sued simply because of the Limited Conservatorship status. You would have to be found personally negligent to be named as a defendant.
Nothing on this website is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice. The contents are intended for educational and informational purposes only and are limited to the State of California. Readers are responsible for obtaining legal advice from their own legal counsel.

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