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How to Establish a Conservatorship in California.

Understanding Conservatorship in California

Establishing a conservatorship in California is a legal process that involves the appointment of an individual or organization to manage the affairs of a person who is deemed unable to take care of themselves or their finances. This is often due to reasons such as illness, disability, age, or incapacity. The person under conservatorship is referred to as the conservatee, while the individual or entity appointed is known as the conservator.

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The Steps to Establish a Conservatorship

Step 1: Determine the Need for Conservatorship
The first step in establishing a conservatorship is to determine whether it is necessary. This usually involves assessing the potential conservatee's capacity to make decisions and manage their own affairs. A physician's evaluation may be required to establish the extent of incapacity.

Step 2: Identify the Appropriate Type of Conservatorship
In California, there are different types of conservatorships, including general, limited, and Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships. Each type caters to various circumstances and offers different levels of control over the conservatee's life and finances.

Step 3: File a Petition
Once the need for a conservatorship is established, the next step is to file a petition with the court. The petition should include detailed information about the conservatee's condition and why a conservatorship is necessary. Relevant medical documents and personal declarations may also be required.

Step 4: Notify Interested Parties
California law requires that relatives and other interested parties be notified about the petition for conservatorship. This allows them an opportunity to object or provide input on the proposed arrangement.

Step 5: Court Investigation
The court will typically appoint an investigator to examine the circumstances surrounding the petition. The investigator will interview the proposed conservatee and assess whether a conservatorship is appropriate.

Step 6: Court Hearing
Following the investigation, a court hearing will take place where evidence can be presented by all interested parties. The judge will then decide whether to grant the conservatorship based on all the information provided.

Historical Reference

An example that brought widespread attention to conservatorships was the case of Britney Spears. In 2008, following public concerns about her mental health, Britney Spears was placed under a conservatorship controlled by her father and an attorney. Despite its initial intention for protection, it became controversial over time as questions regarding its necessity and duration arose. Her case highlighted how complex and impactful these legal arrangements can be and underscored the importance of thorough legal processes in establishing them.


Establishing a conservatorship in California requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures. It involves assessing the individual's needs, selecting an appropriate type of conservatorship, filing a petition, notifying relatives, undergoing a court investigation, and participating in a court hearing. As demonstrated by historical cases, it is crucial that this process be conducted with transparency and respect for the rights of all parties involved.