Estate Planning and Business Law

Limited Conservatorship

A limited conservatorship is a special type of conservatorship established for individuals with development disabilities. This legal proceeding impacts the ability of the special needs individual to care for themselves, their finances and property.

Unlike a general conservatorship, which generally gives a conservator authority over all aspects of a conservatee's life, a limited conservatorship focuses on maintaining the conservatee's self-reliance and independence. The courts only designate those powers to the limited conservator which the limited conservatee is unable to manage on his or her own.

As part of this process, the Regional Center provides a mandatory report regarding its findings as to whether the person with special needs should be conserved or not, and how much power over the limited conservatee the limited conservator should have. This report is kept confidential.

It should be noted that the recommendations and findings of the Regional Center are not binding on the court.

Parents of a developmentally disabled individual who are accustomed to making personal and financial decisions for their child usually file for a limited conservatorship. This is because when their child turns 18, a doctor questions the parents' power to make medical decisions, or a school questions a parent's involvement in their child's education.

Another situation that also prompts a parent to apply for a limited conservatorship is when an adult child inherits money and the parent wants to protect the funds in a limited conservatorship or special needs trust.

It is highly recommended that a parent of a disabled child file for a limited conservatorship years in advance of the conservatee's 18th birthday.

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