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Guardianships / Conservatorships

For some members of our society, legal protection may be necessary even after they have entered adulthood. These individuals may have been injured in an accident, continue to suffer from an incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder, or have some other condition that prevents them from caring for themselves. In these cases, a conservatorship may be established.

Conservators and Protected Persons

Conservatorship is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a conservator, or custodian.  There are two main types of conservatorship: conservatorship of the person and conservatorship of the estate or property.

A conservator is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a minor without a parental conservator or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property. Additionally, a person who is prone to fraud or undue external influence may be placed under conservatorship for protection.

Appointment of a conservator can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Right to Due Process

In order to safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she is usually provided with notice and is entitled to attend all legal proceedings related to conservatorship. In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Conservatorship of the Person

Conservatorship of the person grants authority over non-financial matters such as issues that impact the personal well-being of the protected person, including making important medical decisions. The appointed conservator is normally tasked with the following responsibilities

  • Determining and maintaining residence
  • Providing informed consent to and supervising medical treatment
  • Consenting to and supervising non-medical services such as education, psychiatric or behavioral counseling
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Maintaining the protected person’s autonomy as much as possible

Conservatorship of the Estate or Property

Conservatorship of the estate or property empowers the conservator to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets

The conservator may be required to report to the court about his or her activities on an annual basis.
Many conservatorships are temporary arrangements, meant to protect an incapacitated individual until he or she regains capacity.

Guardianship of Minors

Guardianships may also be used to protect the legal rights of a minor. In the event that a parent is no longer able to act on behalf of his or her child, a guardian, usually a relative, is appointed. Unlike an adoption, under a guardianship, parents may remain responsible for supporting the child financially and they do not necessarily forfeit their parental rights.

A minor may be considered for legal guardianship if his or her parent cannot provide shelter, does not have a steady income, suffers from an illness, or is incarcerated. In most instances, parental approval is sought prior to any legal proceedings.


The Law Office of Cassandra C. Massey, P.C. is located in the City of Alameda, Alameda County, and serving the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Marin, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Napa, Solano & San Francisco Bay Area.



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