Special Needs & Limited Conservatorship
When planning for the security of a loved one with special needs, there are several estate planning tools that will ensure he or she is properly cared for.
1. Special Needs Trust
As an attorney who drafts Special Needs Trusts for families in Contra Costa County and the San Francisco Bay Area, I have helped many families protect the benefits for a loved one with disabilities. A Special Needs Trust is an essential part of proper estate planning for an individual receiving government benefits. For developmentally disabled individuals over the age of 18, a limited conservatorship may also be necessary. Learn more about why an Estate Plan that includes a Special Needs Trust is necessary for Disabled Individuals.
2. Limited Conservatorship
Often called “Guardianships,” Limited Conservatorships are necessary for loved ones over 18 years of age with developmental disabilities who need assistance with caring for themselves. The Limited Conservatorship can be obtained anytime after the individual turns eighteen. In order to obtain a Limited Conservatorship, the parent or family member must petition the Court. This is called the “Petition for Appointment of Probate Conservator.” Once the Conservatorship Petition has been filed with the Court, a hearing will be set. Generally the hearing date for a Conservatorship is 6-8 weeks out. However, if there is need to gain Conservatorship more quickly, A Petition for Temporary Conservator can be heard by the Court within a week of filing. Once all paperwork has been submitted correctly, the Court will grant the Conservatorship and issue Letters of Conservatorship. An attorney will be appointed from the Court’s Conservatorship panel to represent the interests of the proposed Conservatee. For most Limited Conservatorship matters, this attorney is paid for by the County.
What is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal proceeding in which a judge appoints an individual who is deemed responsible (called the conservator) to assist or manage the care of another individual (called the conservatee). In the case of a limited conservatorship, the conservator is appointed by a judge to assist the developmentally disabled person in managing their own care and/or finances. The goal of the courts is to empower the disabled individual to "develop maximum independence and self reliance," while implementing legal means by which a caregiver can offer help when necessary.
A judge will grant powers to the conservator based on the individual situation. Talbot Law Group attorneys have extensive experience with Conservatorships in Contra Costa and Alameda County and can advise potential Conservators on what the Court will need to grant the Conservatorship. We will also assist you in determining what additional information is necessary for your child or sibling’s particular situation. As attorneys who frequently appear before the judges in Contra Costa County and Alameda County, we are very familiar with the judges and their practices.
Once all the proper paperwork, evidence, and legal documents are complete and filed with the court, a hearing date is set with the court. After the judge has heard your case, they will decide what powers are to be granted to the conservator. The limited conservator may ask the judge for the following 7 powers:
Fix the conservatee's residence
Access the conservatee's confidential records or papers
Enter into contracts on behalf of the conservatee
Give or withhold medical consent on behalf of the conservatee
Select the conservatee's social contacts and relationships
Make decisions regarding the education of the conservatee