A Limited Conservatorship for Child About to Turn 18

“Susan”, the mother of a high-functioning 17-year-old child on the autism spectrum, came in to begin the process of creating a Limited Conservatorship for her daughter, “Jane”, who was just months away from turning 18. Decision-making was stressful for Jane, often exacerbating her symptoms, so Susan made decisions as much as possible to avoid potential distress for her daughter.

Co-Conservators: A team approach

Susan had her children relatively late in life, and is now nearly 50–more than 30 years older than Jane–so the question arose about what would happen to her daughter if she died. We discussed some possible scenarios, and Susan suggested that her 19-year old niece, Jennifer, who was very close to Jane, could be a Co-Conservator. Susan made the decision to be a Co-Conservator with her husband, Bob, and Jennifer. As parents, Susan and Bob would be the main Conservators, but if at some point they needed help or died, Jennifer could take over as Conservator.

  • Our first step is to help prepare the petition to the court and schedule a hearing date for Susan, Bob and Jennifer.
  • The court will assign an investigator to the case who will go to the home before the hearing to make sure Jane, the proposed Conservatee, is being properly cared for and is not being taken advantage of. While most Conservatorships are in the best interests of a family member, instances of abuse do occur.
  • The family’s doctor will be asked to provide us with a Doctor’s Declaration to identify Jane’s potential needs and explain why she needs a Conservator.
  • We will prepare a petition stating whether the Conservatorship will be for the person only or for the person and her estate. In cases such as this and for most minors, a Conservator of the Estate is not relevant.

Limited Conservatorship: The legal process

It generally takes us an estimated ten days to complete and assemble the paperwork, including receiving reports from the doctor and investigator in the case. The hearing is scheduled an estimated 40 days after we submit the petition to the court. The investigator reports on the proposed Conservators and the environment and the Regional Center reports on the Conservatee.

At the first hearing an attorney is appointed for the Conservatee by the court. In most cases, there are several hearings to accommodate the findings of the attorney, Regional Center and the investigator. The Limited Conservatorship is completed when the judge creates an order that states who the Conservator(s) is/are, what their powers are, and if there will be any limitations placed on the Conservatee.

About Limited Conservatorships

Parents of a developmentally disabled child need to petition the court for a Limited Conservatorship before that child turns 18 in order to avoid a period where they cannot legally act on the behalf of the child. Disabled adult children are not legally able to become their own signatories; they require an additional legal signature for the forms and contracts that are increasingly common in everyday life. Without securing a Limited Conservatorship before their disabled child turns 18, parents can’t act on behalf of their child when he/she turns 18, resulting in problems at school, work, with doctors and under any circumstances that require the signature of a legal guardian.

As a Limited Conservator, parents become their child’s advocates

Limited Conservators look out for their best interests and protect their child. The developmentally disabled can usually do many things on their own, so at the court hearing, the judge gives the Limited Conservator power to do those things the Conservatee cannot do without help.

Do you have a family member who will be turning 18 and need to create a Limited Conservatorship? Call California Document Preparers at one of our three Bay Area offices today to schedule an appointment. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable