29 Jul Limited Conservatorships As We Celebrate 25 Years of the ADA
To recognize the strides this country has made to accommodate those with disabilities, we’d like to draw attention to this week’s milestone—the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. The Justice Department has played an important role in the success of this legislation that has effected enormous changes, calling for equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.
Think about this for a minute—our sidewalks have been retrofitted for wheelchair access, ADA bathrooms are part of new, stricter Title 24 building codes. We now have braille lettering on elevators and doorways and streetlight signals that talk to us. The workplace has been make more accessible for the disabled—making changes to equipment and schedules. Employers who do not comply can be accused of discrimination and subject to a lawsuit. If you’re someone with a disability, the accommodations have not come nearly far or fast enough, but we have made significant advances.
Limited Conservatorships for clients with disabilities
One of the legal services that California Document Preparers provides for our clients with disabilities is Limited Conservatorships, of which there are two kinds:
- A Limited Conservatorship of the Person is a court arrangement where a Conservator cares for and protects a developmentally disabled adult and provides for the needs of daily life that this person cannot take care of.
- A Limited Conservatorship of the Estate is a court arrangement where a conservator handles financial matters–paying bills and collecting the income if the Conservatee has an estate and assets.
Most of the Limited Conservatorships with which we deal are Limited Conservatorships for the Developmentally Disabled. A judge gives a responsible person, called a Limited Conservator, certain rights to care for another adult who has a developmental disability, called a limited Conservatee. The Court will decide if the Conservatee is developmentally disabled—generally if he/she has an IQ of less than 70 or is diagnosed with autism. Other conditions may qualify as well.
Because developmentally disabled people can usually do many things on their own, the judge will only give the Limited Conservator power to do those things the Conservatee cannot do without help.
The Conservator will be involved with decisions about:
- Where to live
- Records and papers management
- Signing a contract
- Consent for medical treatment
- Education and vocational training
- Consent for marriage
- Financial affairs
In the case of the Limited Conservatorship, the Conservatee has many rights—the more high-functioning, the more rights he/she will likely have. Note that the Conservator does not have power over the Conservatee’s social and sexual life and does not receive a salary. The Court also supervises the Conservator relationship.
Family members–parents, sisters or brothers are often named as Conservators, but any responsible adult may do this. There may be more than one Limited Conservator; in this way, if something happens to one Conservator, there will be continuity.
If you are trying to establish a Limited Conservatorship for someone approaching his/her 18th birthday, it’s a good idea to start the process more than three months before that time. Parents, brothers and sisters who may act as Limited Conservators should talk to the developmentally disabled person so he/she understands what is going on and, as much as possible, be part of the decision-making process.