Does your parent need a guardian?

Sharman L. Brooks

If your elderly parent or loved one can no longer live or do certain tasks independently, you may consider establishing a California guardianship. This legal arrangement, called a conservatorship when established for adults, gives a responsible person the right to manage another person’s affairs and finances.

Review the basics about setting up a conservatorship for an aging family member in California.

Signs your loved one needs a guardian

If you are thinking about guardianship, you have noticed that your parent cannot function as he or she once did. Warning signs include forgetting to take medications, failing to perform personal hygiene and no longer eating properly. You might notice stacks of unopened mail or bills at your parent’s house.

California conservatorship basics

In California, a family member can petition the probate court to establish a general conservatorship when another adult cannot provide self-care or financial management, such as an elderly person. If the court appoints you as your parent’s guardian, you agree to care for and protect him or her, including shelter, meals, medical treatment, household management, personal care and transportation.

You must regularly update the court about your family member’s mental and physical health and well-being. Some major decisions on behalf of your parent, such as changing living arrangements, might require sign-off from the judge.

While various family members can file for conservatorship, the court will make sure that a suggested arrangement supports the person’s best interests. California prefers to have a spouse serve in this role if possible, followed by an adult child, living parent, sibling or another family member.

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