Conservators in California

Conservators in California

If a conservator of the estate is appointed, the conservator must:

  • Obtain a bond as a guarantee that he or she will faithfully perform the required duties.
  • Manage the estate’s assets with the care of a prudent person dealing with someone else’s property, keeping estate assets in interest–bearing accounts and ensuring that the assets are separate from anyone else’s assets.
  • File an inventory of the conservatee’s property.
  • Determine that there is appropriate and adequate insurance covering the assets and risks of the estate.
  • Keep complete and accurate records of each financial transaction affecting the estate.

If a conservator of the person is appointed, the conservator must:

  • Obtain a bond as a guarantee that he or she will faithfully perform the required duties.
  • Assess the conservatee’s needs.
  • Decide where the conservatee is to live, choosing the “least restrictive,” appropriate living situation that is safe and comfortable and allows the conservatee as much independence as possible.
  • Ensure that the conservatee’s health needs are met, if medical authority has been granted.
  • Work with the Conservator of the Estate, if there is one.

At least 90 days after being appointed, the conservator of the estate may petition the court for payment for the services of the conservator of the estate, conservator of the person, or both.

The court will make an order allowing any compensation the court determines is just and reasonable, including compensation to attorneys of the conservator of estate, person, or both. Some courts may expressly limit the compensation allowed.  Example is that San Francisco courts require that the fees of conservators of the estate not exceed 1% of the fair market value of assets at the end of the accounting period.  The compensation allowed will be charged to the estate.

Professional conservators (also called “private conservators”) earn a living from compensation for their services as conservator of the person, the estate, or both. They usually manage the affairs of several conservatees at once.  Many are members of the Professional Fiduciary Association of California – http://www.pfac-pro.org.

In the past, there had been problems regarding the integrity with which some professional conservators manage their incapacitated clients’ funds.  Due to the passage of the Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Reform Act of 2006, more stringent standards have been enacted regarding conservatorship oversight.  Here are some of the specific ways that oversight has been strengthened:

  • Conservators are required to adhere to more stringent standards regarding selection of a conservatee’s residence. (Probate code sections 2352–2591)
  • Courts review conservatorships more frequently (at six months and one year after the initial appointment and yearly thereafter). (Probate code § 1850(a))
  • Courts review conservators with more scrutiny. Court investigators are  required to fully investigate a conservatee’s living situation, quality of care and finances, and any proposed moves. (Probate code § 1851(a))
  • Courts will be able to review a conservatorship at any time on its own motion. (Probate code § 1850(b))
  • Investigations are conducted without prior notice to the conservator. (Probate code § 1851(a))
  • Court investigators are permitted to inspect and copy all of the conservator’s records, including expenditures/receipts. (Probate code § 1851(a))
  • Accountings submitted by conservators are subject to thorough and more scrutinizing review. (Probate code § 2620 (c), (d), (e))
  • Qualification and education requirements have been raised for court investigators, conservators, court–employed staff attorneys, court–appointed counsel, and examiners. (Probate code § 1456)

Uniform standards of conduct have been developed to govern the actions that conservators may take on behalf of conservatees. (Probate code § 2410) 

Information about professional conservators

The Professional Fiduciaries Bureau was created by legislation that passed and was enacted into law in 2007.  The Bureau is managed by Califorinia’s Department of Consumer Affairs and has an informational web site for both professional conservators and their clients. Professional Fiduciaries Bureau The web site allows the public to find out whether a conservator is licensed as a professional fiduciary and to review and file complaints.

Professional fiduciaries provide critical services to seniors, disabled persons, and children. They manage matters for clients including daily care, housing and medical needs, and also offer financial management services ranging from basic bill paying to estate and investment management. Requirements for licensing include passing an examination and completing thirty (30) hours of approved education courses (See Pre-Licensing Education Information), and earning fifteen (15) hours of continuing education credit each year for renewal.  Licensees must comply with reporting requirements and must abide by the Professional Fiduciaries Code of Ethics so that client matters are handled responsibly and without conflict.

Source of some information here is California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform – http://www.canhr.org

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