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Obtaining Guardianship of an Elderly Parent in California

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

When older people become ill, they cannot always provide for their own needs, either physically or financially. In these times, someone must act in their place to assure proper care is given, monthly bills are paid and assets are not wasted.

But if only the senior’s name is on an account, it is difficult to gain access and the financial institution may refuse to provide any information. In California, a guardianship or conservatorship may be created to appoint another to act on behalf of the senior. As it is a court proceeding, it may be expensive to create, but also may be necessary.

Is a Guardianship or Conservatorship Necessary

Before filing the proceeding, Sonoma County elder care professionals advise family members to determine if a Power of Attorney had been signed by the senior in the past. If so, it may eliminate the need for conservatorship. Check personal papers, and if he or she used an attorney in the past, check with the attorney. While checking the personal papers, check to see if a living trust was created. A living trust will usually dispense with the need for conservatorship.

Filing the Proceeding

There will be a number of documents to file with the court including a petition asking the court to appoint a conservator, an inventory of assets and liabilities, nomination of a person to be appointed, a notice of hearing, and other documents. Normally, an attorney will prepare the documents, but courts do provide forms for those representing themselves.

Once filed, the court will order a hearing to be held on a specified date. The person filing the petition is normally responsible for notifying interested parties, such as family members, of the date and time of the hearing.

Appointing a Guardian/Conservator

If the person nominated in the petition is sufficient, he or she will be appointed by the court. The court will usually order the person to attend classes and review the court-supplied handbook to ensure the conservator meets minimum qualifications.

Powers Granted by the Court

The person appointed will be provided the power, at minimum, to meet the basic financial needs of the senior. This will provide the conservator access to the senior’s financial accounts. The court may order an investigator to meet personally with the senior to make sure needs are met. After the first year, the court will order a hearing to inspect financial records and accounts of the senior. The accounting will be every two years after that.

In addition to financial help, your senior loved one may require additional support to remain safe, healthy, and comfortable in his or her home. At Home Care Assistance, we offer flexible, comprehensive care for seniors as well as respite care in Sonoma County. All of our care services are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a dedicated Care Manager is on-call 24/7 to address client needs or concerns. For more information, please call (707) 843.4368 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.