When people think of estate planning, they often think that it's just about the distribution of assets when someone passes away. While this is true, there's actually a lot more that goes into the process of proper estate planning.
In many cases, one may become ill or disabled long before something may happen and they pass away. Should one become unable to manage their own affairs, there is a legal process known as a conservatorship that will appoint one or more individuals to step in and take over for the disabled individual.
Some states have a process known as a guardianship, which is where the court will grant one or more individuals the authority to manage the personal and health-related decisions for another individual who is unable to do so for themselves. This typically involves a confirmation that an individual is too physically disabled or mentally incompetent to make these decisions on their own. A guardian will typically have the authority to make decisions about where they will live, and what kind of care and medical treatment that they will receive. They are responsible for an individual's overall safety, health and well-being.
In these states, they separately have a process known as a conservatorship, which similarly to a guardianship, involves the court appointing one or more individuals, except that this is solely to manage an individual's financial affairs. A conservator will have the authority to manage another's bank accounts, investments, bills, and other assets. They are responsible for ensuring that an individual's bills are paid and properly managing the cash flow of his or her estate. However, in California, guardianships only refer to the appointment of individuals to care for minor children under the age of 18 in the event that something happens to the parents and they are unable to do so.
Conservatorships in California are for protecting incapacitated individuals and ensuring the proper care and treatment of an individual should they not be able to do so for themselves.
The legal process of a conservatorship in California can be extremely time-consuming and costly. For many families, the need for a conservatorship is one of great urgency and necessity because something has happened to their loved ones. The time, expense and hassle of having to wait for the court can be avoided with proper estate planning. Through the proper legal means, an individual can already have someone (or multiple people) named to step in and take over in the event that something happens to them.
Whether you have an estate plan or not, now would be a great time to figure out if you have the proper legal documents in place to ensure that you and your family will not have to go through the expensive and headaches of the California court process. If you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, we invite you to attend one of our upcoming free Living Trust Seminars to learn more about the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis. Our law firm has been servicing the estate planning needs and helping clients avoid the conservatorship process for over 37 years. At the conclusion of the seminar, all attendees will be offered a free consultation to come in and meet with an attorney. You can register to attend one of our seminars online or contact our main office at 1-800-756-5596. If you are unable to attend an upcoming seminar, please feel free to join our e-mail list and we will be sure to e-mail you of future seminar dates.