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When is Guardianship Appropriate for a Loved One?

man sitting with older woman pointing at a laptop

Celebrity conservatorships have been in the news recently.  Brian Wilson, one of the founders of The Beach Boys and the writer of many of their hits, will be placed under a legal conservatorship due to a "major neurocognitive disorder," a judge in Los Angeles ruled recently.   Brittany Spears was another high-profile case recently in the news.  What exactly is a conservatorship and when is it appropriate for someone close to you?


Conservatorship, sometimes referred to as guardianship, is a legal concept that allows a court to appoint an individual or organization to make financial and/or personal decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make these decisions for themselves. This can be necessary in situations where an individual is incapacitated due to age, illness, or disability.


If you are considering filing for conservatorship for a loved one, it is important to carefully consider the following factors:


1. The Individual's Mental and Physical Capacity

Before seeking conservatorship, it is crucial to assess the individual's capacity to make decisions or care for themselves. This involves obtaining medical evaluations and assessments from healthcare professionals.


2. The Individual's Wishes

It is important to consider the individual's wishes and preferences when seeking conservatorship. If possible, involve the individual in the decision-making process and take their preferences into account.  Be prepared for the individual to resist the suggestion.  It is not unusual for people to resist giving up control of their finances or ability to make decisions for themselves.   


3.  Did the Individual Sign a Power of Attorney? 

Before considering conservatorship, you should determine wither the individual signed a durable general power of attorney.  If such a document was signed by the individual, a conservatorship is likely unnecessary.


4. The Potential Conflicts of Interest

When appointing a conservator, it is important to consider any potential conflicts of interest that may arise. Make sure the chosen conservator is trustworthy and capable of acting in the individual's best interests.


5. The Scope of the Conservatorship

When filing for conservatorship, it is important to clearly define the scope of the conservator's authority. This may include decisions related to healthcare, finances, and personal matters.


5. The Legal Process

Filing for conservatorship involves a legal process that can be complex and time-consuming. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken.


Seeking conservatorship for a loved one is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of the individual's needs and preferences. In many instances, you may need to take action that your loved one specifically opposes.  They may very well be angry with you and the process could result in a disruption of your relationship.  It is very difficult to act in someone’s best interests when they are fighting what’s best for them.  By considering these factors and seeking legal guidance of the experienced elder law and special needs attorneys at Fiffik Law Group, you can ensure that the conservatorship process is handled effectively and in the best interests of your loved one.


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