Establishing a conservator is a complex legal process involving multiple forms, persons, and hearings. What follows is simply an overview to help you understand the basic legal process of establishing a conservatorship.

After you have determined that conservatorship is necessary, someone must file documents with the court requesting that conservatorship be established. These documents detail the reason(s) why a conservatorship is necessary and why there are no alternatives to a conservatorship. The documents also provide detailed information to the court regarding the person who is nominated to be conservator. In almost every conservatorship the documents must include a Capacity Declaration completed by a licensed health care provider who has met with the proposed conservatee.

Once the documents are filed, the court will set a hearing date regarding the conservatorship. This hearing date is often set over one month after the documents are filed. If there is an emergency that requires a conservatorship be established earlier, then it is possible to file a separate set of documents requesting what is called a "temporary conservatorship." The temporary conservatorship can be established very quickly if the court finds that there are exigent circumstances. The decision to request a temporary conservatorship is very serious and you should consult with a qualified attorney before requesting a temporary conservatorship. Even if the court establishes a temporary conservatorship everyone will still have to later return to court in order to establish the "permanent" conservatorship.

Once the documents are filed, the court will investigate the necessity of the conservatorship. The court investigator will talk with the proposed conservatee, the proposed conservator, the healthcare care professionals, and anyone else that has relevant knowledge that can help the investigator evaluate whether the conservatorship is appropriate. The investigator will then file a report with the court, summarizing the information and recommend, in addition to other issues, whether the proposed case needs a conservatorship, whether the proposed case consents to the conservatorship, and whether the proposed conservator is qualified and appropriate.

The court will then conduct a hearing regarding the conservatorship. At the hearing the judge will listen to the testimony of the proposed conservatee (if the person is able to attend the hearing), the proposed conservator, and all other interested persons ( e.g. friends and family).

If the proposed conservatee objects to the conservatorship, if there are third party objections, or if there are other contentious issues, the court will set the matter for trial wherein the judge will weigh all the evidence and render a decision regarding the proposed conservatorship.

If the court establishes the conservatorship then an additional set of documents are filed creating the conservatorship and the conservator is ordered to provide additional documentation to the court regarding the conservatee's assets and the conservator's actions. This further documentation is due at specific points in time in the future.

As you can see, the process involved in a conservatorship is complex and time consuming. It is important that you consult with a lawyer who understands both the legal complexities and emotional dynamics involved in conservatorship law.

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