Conservatorship For Young Disabled Adult

Unlike other "conservatorship" law firms, our conservatorship practice is one of the few law firms dedicated to individuals with a developmental disability such as Autism, Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disability. That is our sole focus. For example, our practice does not include services for individuals with Dementia or Alzheimer's.

We are experienced with all courts in Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Diego, plus numerous courts in Central and Northern California.

Is 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.

Jeffrey Gottlieb, Attorney

For clarification, the term "limited" conservatorship is often confusing. For nearly every one of our clients, the court grants every requested power in regards to the adult disabled family member. However, if the disabled adult is relatively high functioning the parent may only request, as an example, the two powers of 1) making medical decisions and 2) accessing medical records. Under this example, the parent is requesting "limited" powers.

We are one of a few law firms with a conservatorship practice extensively experienced on behalf of adults with a developmental disability. Every month, we have numerous active cases throughout Southern California. Due to our unique experience with the developmentally disabled, we also have experience with other counties such as Ventura, Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Monterey, and San Mateo. Usually, our Northern California cases involve contested matters.
It is very difficult in a contested conservatorship matter to obtain an attorney whose practice is solely dedicated to the needs of the developmentally disabled; as distinguished from most conservatorship attorneys where their practice primarily involves much older individuals, typically with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimers.

We are a special needs law firm; that is 99 percent of what we do. Specifically, most of our developmentally disabled conservatorships involve individuals between the ages of 17 and 25.

However, we are sometimes retained in regards to a proposed conservatee in their 40s or 50s. Usually, later aged developmentally disabled conservatorships arise as a result of an urgently needed medical procedure or a regional center requirement or a group home placement, or some other extenuating circumstance.
As legal/statutory background, a "limited" conservatorship was specifically developed by the California legislature on behalf of developmentally disabled adults; wherein, it provides for a broad range of conservatorship powers from just medical decision making (as an example) to the fullest range of powers (depending upon the severity of the adult's disabilities). That is, a limited conservatorship is tailored to the needs of the disabled adult (some circumstances require only a few powers over the disabled adult child whereas in other circumstances all powers are appropriate). Most often we obtain all powers available within the custom and practice of the jurisdiction (for example, orange county, Los Angeles and Riverside county courts have different practices for addressing what specific powers should be granted to the conservator).

Please note, that if for some reason the disabled adult does not meet the legal requirements to qualify for a "limited" conservatorship, then an alternative option is to petition the court for what is often referred to as a "general" conservatorship.

A limited conservator has the authority to do only those things that are granted at the time of appointment by the local superior court.

A limited conservator (usually a family member) may have the authority to:

  • Decide where the conservatee will live
  • Manage the conservatee’s social affairs
  • 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 ordered forms, regional center intervention, an attorney appointed to represent your adult child, a court-ordered investigator, plus court appearances. As a special needs law practice, we can manage the entire process.

Jeffrey Gottlieb, Attorney

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 is indeed developmentally disabled. 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 disabled adult, as a means to make certain that the proposed conservatorship is with merit.

Typically, the entire process of obtaining a conservatorship is from 3 months to 5 months after filing the petition (varies significantly depending upon the county in which the court is located, local practices/policies). A temporary conservatorship can be obtained for emergency purposes if time is of the essence.
Attorney Jeffrey A. Gottlieb's conservatorship practice supports families with a special needs developmentally disabled young adult (e.g., with autism, Down syndrome, emotional disturbance, cerebral palsy, etc).
We are familiar with IEPs, psychoeducational assessments, regional center assessments, and other clinical documents that are 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, and San Diego). Each court has its own particular forms/pleadings requirements and approaches to conservatorships; that is our experience.

Conservatorship Litigation

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
  • Visitation orders disputes
  • 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 conservatorships of elderly individuals where disputes often involve the children and siblings of the conservatee, in special needs conservatorships usually the disputes 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).

Attorney Fees

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 fee for our attorney fees (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.

Jeffrey Gottlieb, Attorney

Most contested cases involve a continuing dispute between divorced parents or a high functioning proposed conservatee who objects to the need for a conservatorship.
Our full service includes 1) reviewing critical special education and regional center documentation as well as pertinent clinical records, 2) meeting with you and the proposed conservatee, 3) drafting the petition and related forms (usually 50 plus pages from the beginning to the end of the hearing process), 4) representing you at court and 5) following up with completing pleadings after the court grants the conservatorship.
It is our opinion that our attorney fees are just above the average cost for obtaining conservatorship legal services from other law firms. We are not the lowest price nor the highest. Our fees are in recognition of our knowledge of the diverse special needs population, our conservatorship experience with courts throughout Southern California, as well as the effort we make on behalf of our clients.
We do not quote attorney fees on-line due to consideration of State Bar rules and regulations and to avoid inconsistency between an on-line quote and an in-office quote. Please feel free to call us for further information.

The video below provides additional information.
Our conservatorship practice serves Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside & Kern Counties.

Click Here To View Limited Conservatorship Video

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