Unlike other "conservatorship" law firms, our conservatorship practice is one of the few law firms dedicated to individuals with developmental disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disability, and Cerebral Palsy. That is our sole focus.
We are experienced with all courts in Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Diego, plus numerous courts in Central and Northern California.
If your special needs child is near the age of 18 or already over the age of 18, then you should consider obtaining a "limited conservatorship" on behalf of your adult child.
The term "limited" conservatorship is often confusing. For nearly every one of our clients, the court grants every requested power in regard to the adult disabled family member. However, if the disabled adult is relatively high functioning, then the parent may choose to request only a few powers such as making medical decisions and access to confidential records.
A limited conservator (usually a family member) may have the authority to:
Decide where the conservatee will live
Examine the conservatee’s confidential records and papers
Sign a contract on behalf of the conservatee
Give or withhold consent for medical treatments
Make decisions regarding education and vocational training
Give or withhold consent to the conservatee’s marriage
Control the conservatee’s sexual contacts and personal relationships
Obtaining a limited conservatorship requires the completion of numerous court forms, (e.g.: doctor's letter to prove disability, regional center assessment), a court-appointed attorney to represent your child, a court-ordered investigator, plus court appearances. As a special needs law practice, we manage the entire process.
Obtaining A Conservatorship - The Process
A conservatorship is granted in a court proceeding where a superior court judge appoints a responsible person (a conservator) to care for another adult (a conservatee) who cannot care for themselves or their finances.
After the filing of a petition for limited conservatorship, a proposed limited conservatee is assessed at a regional center to determine if the proposed conservatee should be conserved. The regional center submits a written report of its findings and recommendations in regard to the conservatorship to the court. While the regional center report is not binding, it provides the court with guidance about the appropriateness of the conservatorship.
Additionally, the court appoints an attorney and an investigator to represent the proposed conservatee, as a means to ensure the conservatorship is appropriate.
Typically, the entire process of obtaining a conservatorship takes about 3 months to 7 months after filing the petition (varies significantly depending upon the county in which the court is located and local practices/policies). A temporary conservatorship can be obtained for emergency purposes if time is of the essence and there truly is an emergency (e.g.: immediate need for surgery).
We are familiar with IEPs, psychoeducational assessments, regional center assessments, and other clinical documents that are often critical for petitioning the court to grant a conservatorship.
We are experienced in serving clients throughout Southern California courts (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, San Diego) etc. It is important to note that each court has its own particular forms/pleadings requirements and approaches to conservatorships.
We are also experienced with contested conservatorship matters requiring a trial (evidentiary hearing).
The following are examples of circumstances requiring judicial interventions
Disputes regarding who should serve as the conservator
Proposed conservatee objecting to the establishment of a conservatorship
Removal of an existing conservator
Disputes regarding Visitation orders
Conservator not considering the reasonable wishes of the conservatee
Modifying existing conservatorship powers
Appointment of a successor conservator
Co-conservators unable to make joint decisions
In contrast to obtaining a conservatorships for elderly individuals, where disputes often involve the children and siblings of the conservatee, in special needs conservatorships, the disputes usually involve divorced parents of the disabled adult child.
Contested conservatorship matters can be very costly as well as emotionally draining. If you decide to litigate, you must have the financial means to fund the litigation. You should choose an attorney that will maintain communication with you. Accordingly, we highly recommend that you first request an in-office consultation before deciding to litigate; even if you have to pay for the consultation (we charge a flat price for an in-office litigation consultation).
Most of our cases are not contested (which means that no one objects to the establishment of the conservatorship or to the proposed conservator). For a non-contested conservatorship, we generally charge a flat attorney fee (such that your costs are reasonably predictable).
Non-attorney expenses such as court-required filing fees are paid separately by the client (which can vary from several hundreds of dollars to well over $1,000). Non-attorney expenses as explained above are in addition to attorney fees.
If the case becomes contested or is anticipated to become contested, we charge an hourly fee.
Most contested cases involve a continuing dispute between divorced parents or a high functioning proposed conservatee who objects to the need for a conservatorship.
It is our opinion that our attorney fees are just above the average cost for obtaining conservatorship legal services from other law firms. Our fees are in recognition of our knowledge of the diverse special needs population, our conservatorship experience with courts throughout California, as well as the effort we make on behalf of our clients.
We do not quote attorney fees online due to consideration of State Bar rules and regulations and to avoid inconsistency between an online quote and an in-office quote. Please feel free to call us for further information.
The video below provides additional information.
Click Here To View Limited Conservatorship Video