Father Daughter Attorney Team in Torrance for Conservatorships – Los Angeles and Orange County – South Bay Conservatorship Lawyers

The Law Office of Rodney W. Wickers Has Been Handling Probate Conservatorship Matters for Over 30 Years in Los Angeles County Courts.

We are Attorneys with the practice area of Conservatorships, appearing in both Los Angeles and Orange County Courts.  Our attorneys at our law firm, Wickers, Wickers & Admans LLP, as part of their Estate practice area, have represented both professional and lay Conservators.  Each of the attorney’s in this father-daughter law office, Rodney W. WickersChristina M. Wickers and Alexandra L. Admans, have been named on the SuperLawyers list as a top rated Trusts and Estates Attorneys in Southern California.  The practice areas for the attorneys include all types of Probate actions including conservatorships, complex to and simple estates, probate administration, creation of trusts, trust administration, probate of wills, and other litigated matters.

Attorney Rodney W. Wickers, served as Court Appointed Counsel for Probate Volunteer Panel, now called Court Appointed Counsel,  in Los Angeles County for over ten (10) years, representing proposed Conservatees and Conservatees, thereby assisting the Court in determining what the Conservatee’s desires were and the best plan of action for the Conservatees overall health and welfare.  Attorney Rodney W. Wickers daughter, also a lawyer and partner at the law firm, Christina M. Wickers has followed in his foot steps also serving as Court Appointed Counsel in the Los Angeles Superior Court since 2018.  The wealth of experience of this law firm can assist clients in determining the best plan of action for the Conservatee.  We can also help our clients with accounting and reporting to the Court, which is required of all Conservators about every one (1) to three (3) years.

 The attorney’s also are strong, and when necessary, aggressive legal advocates for their clients all the way through trials and even appeals.  All family dynamics are different, and we work towards cooperation among the parties, when possible.  Should there be a dispute, we are ready to give clients the legal advice so that the client can make well educated decisions in their Estate cases.

Our Attorney’s Can Help Clients With Legal Information and Guidance Throughout the Conservatorship Process.  Below are Some Frequently Asked Questions Our Attorney’s Get About Probate Conservatorships.

When to Petition the Court for a Conservatorship

When a person is lacking the mental capacity to be able to give consent for medical treatment, enter into contracts et cetera, under the proper circumstances, this office can help the client obtain a Conservatorship for that person. A Conservatorship will help to manage the health, welfare and financial needs of the impaired person.

We work with family members, conservators and lawyers to provide assistance to the person in need by filing the necessary Petitions with the court, obtaining bonding for the Conservator through the bond company, providing status to the court on the care and welfare of the person in need and reporting to the court a detailed accounting.

How Can I Become a Conservator?

There are only one way to become a Conservator, through the Courts.  It is a legal, fiduciary position created by the Court, bestowing upon that person certain duties and responsibilities which are enumerated within the Probate Code.

What Does a Conservator Do?

The tasks of a Conservator depend upon whether the Conservator is appointed for the physical person or just the estate or both the person and estate. A conservator of the person will assist the disabled person by helping them with medical decisions and managing their daily activities.  A conservator of the estate help to manage the financial affairs of the disabled person.  Some examples include opening a bank account and paying bills.

How Will I Know What to Do as a Conservator?

As a Conservator you should have the advice and counsel of an attorney at all times. You also have a Conservatorship Handbook and numerous other opportunities to understand your responsibilities. You should always consult with your attorney on decisions and maintain a close working relationship so that any changes in the Conservatorship you deem necessary can be properly authorized by the Court.

What is an Account for a Conservatorship?

On a periodic basis, the Conservator is required to provide an accounting of all of the income and expenditures made on behalf of the Conservatee during that period. It is usually approximately every three years but can vary depending on the court.

How Much Will it Cost to Set Up a Conservatorship?

Conservatorships can be very straightforward and simple matters but they can also be quite complex and difficult depending upon the circumstances. The participation and cooperation of family members is vital to the proper establishment of a Conservatorship. Where family members are not cooperative, or there is considerable dispute or disagreement about the appropriateness of a Conservatorship or its functioning the costs can become much higher. Given different circumstances that might arise, the cost can be estimated but there is no standard cost associated with establishing a Conservatorship. The initial filing fees for a Conservatorship Petition are a approximately $1,100, which includes an investigator fee, for either the Los Angeles or Orange County Courts, but a fee waiver can be obtained, under certain circumstances. 

Can I Move the Conservatee to a Different Residence?

The Court authorizes a Conservator to determine the Conservatee’s residence but it places certain responsibilities on you to provide a notice of those changes. There are also some limitations on moving the Conservatee out of state and other limitations on the sale of the principal residence. All of these actions require court authorization and should be something to be discussed with your attorney.

Who Can Be the Conservator?

California law has a priority list of Conservators that allows the Court to appoint, starting with the closest family best interest of the Conservatee at all times. The Court’s overriding consideration is what is in the best interest of the Conservatee.  If there is a request to be a Conservator of the Estate, frequently the Proposed Conservator will need to be bonded.  

Can the Conservator Get Paid for Services?

The Conservator can be authorized by the Court to be paid just and reasonable fees for the services provided to the Conservatee. The Court must approve such payments. The Conservator is not authorized to make any payments for conservator services without a court order.

Can there Be More than One Conservator?

Appointment of Co-Conservators is feasible but typically, it crates additional expenses on the Conservatorship Estate. It can also create more difficult management of the Conservatorship. It is not a relationship that one should go into lightly.

What is the Legal Effect of Being Declared “Legally Incapacitated” in Los Angeles Courts and Orange County Courts?

Under California law, a person is presumed to have the capacity to make decisions and be responsible for their actions or decisions.  Even a person with a mental or physical disorder is still considered capable of entering into a legally binding contract, giving away property, getting married, executing wills or trusts, etc.

Probate and Conservatorship Courts in California have the power to declare a person “incapacitated”, meaning that the person is “totally without understanding”, or is of “unsound mind” so that the person lacks the legal capacity to perform a specific act.

In order for the Court to declare a person “legally incapacitated” or “lacking capacity”, the Conservatorship Court or Probate Court must hear evidence supporting the conclusion that the person lacks legal capacity.  (California Probate Code § 810).

How Does the Los Angeles Court and Orange County Court Decide if a Person Lacks Capacity and What are the Legal Effects?

Some of the evidence that the Court considers in making its decision to declare a person lacking of legal capacity includes but is not limited to:

(1) How alert the person is to his or her surroundings;  (2) if the person is able to recognize his or her friends/family;  (3) the person’s ability to maintain focus and concentration;  (4) the person’s short and long term memory capabilities;  (5) the person’s ability to communicate with others;  (6) the person’s logic and reasoning skills;   (7) whether the person suffers from hallucinations or delusions.

How Much Capacity Must a Person Have to Create, Change, Modify, or Cancel Certain Testamentary Instruments (Such as Wills and Trusts)?

In California, it is presumed that all persons have capacity, unless a determination has been made to the contrary by a doctor, a court, or otherwise.  If a determination has been made that a person lacks the capacity to make a decision  it likely means that that person can not understand and appreciate  (1) the responsibilities created by the decision;  (2) the risks and consequences of the decision;  and (3) the alternatives to the decision. (California Probate Code § 812).

How Much Capacity Must a Person Have to Give Informed Consent for Medical Treatment and Procedures in California?

In California, a person must agree (or consent) to receiving certain medical treatments and procedures unless that person lacks the capacity to give such consent.

“Informed” means that the person understands what he or she is consenting to.

A person has the capacity to give informed consent to proposed medical treatment if the person is able to:  (1) Understand what the medical treatment procedure will involve;  (2) Participate in determining the type of medical treatment needed;  (3) Understand the seriousness of his or her illness;  (4) Understand the benefits and risks of receiving or not receiving the treatment;  (5) Understand the benefits and risks of alternative forms of treatment.  (California Probate Code § 813).

What are Some Ramification of a Person being Determined to be Legally Incompetent or Lacking Capacity in Los Angeles Courts and Orange County Courts?

When the Court determines that a person is legally incompetent or lacking capacity, the Court may appoint a conservator or guardian to protect that incompetent person’s interests.  A person must be legally competent to create the terms of and execute a will.  The California Probate Code states that a person executing a will must be of “sound mind”.  This is another way of stating that the person executing the will must be competent to understand the legal effect that the will has upon his or her death.  A person who has been determined to lack capacity may also, in some instances, not be able to contract, convey property, enter into agreements and so on.

Determining Competence of a Settlor Prior to a Trust Amendment,  in Los Angeles and Orange County to Change or Modify a Revocable Living Trust?

Determining whether a Settlor is competent is important for various reasons.   A competent Settlor of a revocable trust has the power to direct the Trustee’s actions.  (California Probate Code § 16001).  A revocable trust may contain provisions that provide for different distribution rules, all of which depend on the Settlor’s competence.

What are the Methods of Determining  a Settlor’s Competence in Los Angeles Courts and Orange County Courts?

For purposes of trust distributions during a Settlor’s lifetime, a Settlor is not competent to make requests if the Settlor is a third person for whom a conservator of the estate could be appointed under California law.  The Trustee may not be required to obtain a Court’s determination of incompetency of the Settlor, depending on the terms of the Trust.

(1) Sometimes the Trustee may rely on his or her own personal judgment based on his or her observations.  Of course, the Trustee’s determination must not be made in bad faith or for an improper purpose.

(2) The Trustee may sometimes rely on the written opinion of two licensed physicians, unrelated by blood or marriage to either Settlor or any Beneficiary of this trust.  The Settlor can request the physicians provide written confirmation of the Settlor’s competence to the Trustee, depending on the terms of the trust, as a person involved with the Settlor’s care and payment for the Settlor’s care.

Here is a few Client Reviews of Our Attorneys Work on a Conservatorship Cases: