Conservatorship: An Intervention for an Elderly Father

Conservatorship: An Intervention for an Elderly Father

A woman came in to our Oakland office seeking our assistance creating a Conservatorship for her 89-year-old father. His situation had escalated to the point where someone needed to step in and manage all aspects of his life.

He was very frail and needed more oversight than he was getting at the senior community where he lived. He made no effort to make friends and was increasingly isolated. He was supposed to receive three meals/day in the dining room, but she knew that he didn’t always eat, and she was concerned that he wasn’t taking his medications. The staff was supposed to be checking on him, but she knew that wasn’t happening—at least not on a regular basis. She knew that he was also drinking, heavily at times, creating a precarious balance for an elderly person on medication.

Spending out of control and running out of money

Most disturbing were his spending habits. He had gone through most of his savings due to his obsession with buying a new car every six months, finding some reason not to like it, then trading it in for another one. All of this for a weekly drive to Kmart, approximately one mile from home. Ironically, he had no real need for a car, as the senior center provided frequent shuttle service to local stores, pharmacies, doctor appointments, restaurants, etc. This extended series of car loans had depleted his savings. He also had an obsession with sweepstakes. Convinced he’d soon be the recipient of a huge prize drawing, he wrote frequent checks to organizations like Publishers Clearinghouse. Meanwhile, he was bouncing checks for small purchases around town. Creditors would call or write and he would simply ignore them. He still received his pension and could afford to stay in his senior community, but it was critical that he immediately curtail his spending.

Create a Conservatorship and manage his finances

It was our client’s hope that if she were able to create a Conservatorship, she could assume responsibility for his finances, giving him a small weekly allowance that would preclude his entering any more sweepstakes. She would also hire a part-time healthcare worker to check in on a regular basis, monitor his blood pressure, make sure he was eating, taking his meds and getting to his doctors’ appointments.

A Conservatorship is often appropriate for someone who is incapacitated, frail or ill. In this case, our client’s father was incapacitated, unrealistic about and unable to manage his own affairs to the point where he was endangering his own life and wellbeing. When the court chooses a Conservator, that person is responsible to the Court and takes on certain jobs and responsibilities.

Responsibilities of a Conservator

A person can obtain Conservatorship of the Person, Conservatorship of the Estate, or both. When the court chooses you as the Conservator of a Person, this means you:

  • Arrange for the Conservatee’s care and protection and decide where he/she will live
  • Provide for health and personal care, housekeeping, transportation and recreation

The money and property the Conservatee owns are called “Estate”. When the court chooses you to be the Conservator of an Estate, you will:

  • Make a plan to make sure the Conservatee’s needs are met
  • Make a list of everything in the estate
  • Manage the Conservatee’s finances, pay bills, invest money and keep financial records
  • Protect the Conservatee’s income and property
  • Make sure the Conservatee gets all the benefits for which he/she is eligible
  • Make sure the Conservatee’s taxes are filed and paid on time

In the case of our client, she wanted to become both the Conservator of the Person and Conservator of the Estate because she wanted to manage the physical welfare of her father as well as his financial affairs, ensuring that there would be enough money to last him for the remainder of his years.

If you’re contemplating a Conservatorship or Power of Attorney for your aging parents, come in to one of our three Bay Area California Document Preparers offices to get started. We help make this easy for you.