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Conservatorship of adult daughter

Started 1294460252.077 in Among Friends | Last reply 1295216391.197 by Roz in Rancho Mirage

Has anyone ever had to seek conservatorship of an adult "child" who is mentally ill? What are the conservator's responsibilities for poor choices by the patient's credit, spending, etc.? How can one protect a mentally ill family member from those who prey on him? Any advice or experiences would be appreciated. Thanks.

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kiddo1294460494.97710263 PostsRegistered 12/6/2006

To answer your question, if I were you I'd check with any of the local mental health organizations in your area.

Be kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Invite Jesus to POSSESS your heart. (And your mind, your thoughts, your actions, your words, your dreams, your plans.)

Roz in Ran­cho Mirage1294469570.773389 PostsRegistered 12/17/2007

Thank you. I'm involved with NAMI, DMH, & UCLA. I would appreciate any sharing of experiences of other parents who have had to seek conservatorship.

halfpint1294504295.43766174 PostsRegistered 7/12/2007

I didn't have conservatorship of a child but of a mother. I had to have a lawyer and go to court. I took care of all her money and bills from a doctor and hospital where she stayed.

RedTop1294507806.075476 PostsRegistered 9/1/2010

I live in southern WV, and am familiar with several instances where someone was court appointed "guardian" over another adult, due to mental illness, age, other levels of incompetency, etc. The guardians were 100% responsible for the proper care of that family member, including having full control of their money, etc. You would also be fully responsible for seeing that no other family member(s) are able to take advantage of that person, even if it means a restraining order to keep them away.

happy hous­ewife1294511537.18334389 PostsRegistered 1/4/2007

i had to get this for my Dad when he was made a quadraplegic in a car accident. The attorney who was taking care of everything felt it was the safest route to go since at that time I had one brother who would have robbed him blind. Basically, just like you are responsible for a child when you are their parent you become responsible for the adult person. I would leave my Dad an allowance at the rehab center where he was staying so he could buy himself a pop or a snack or a book etc and since he enjoyed doing arts and crafts at OT I would buy him extra projects to do. He liked when they took him into the pool so I paid for a nurse aide to do that extra since it wasn't part of his therapy. Just like you would do for a child. I made sure he had his laundry done and clean, decent looking clothes to wear.I paid for the barber to cut his hair. Occasionally I would take him out for lunch or just for a car ride and I would pay his nurse aide to go with us and help me with him.(we would do this on her day off and I paid her cash)a few times i took him shopping to Walmart and I had to pay for his purchases, which was funny because he bought stuff for me.

So you get the idea - you become just exactly like a parent, and you are total;ly responsible for them and their finances and all decisions that effect them.If you want her to be able to go shopping on her own may I suggest a visa gift card that she can use like a credit card but will have a limit on how much is being spent.

When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticism or misguided opinions walking away is the best way to defend yourself.To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude. -Dodinsky

Roz in Ran­cho Mirage1294517815.36389 PostsRegistered 12/17/2007

Thank you. She was able to get a credit card in a board and care facility and ran up over $3000. Also someone got her to buy a car for them. I'm worried about responsibility and liability. She is home with us now on her meds, but still has the right to her own income to spend on liquor and cigarettes. If I put her out, she will be on the street. She has rights and I can't risk my own financial security by taking responsibility for what she does. She has schizophrenia.

LJoy1294521352.80714 PostsRegistered 5/16/2010


I have a daughter who is under conservatorship. I am her appointed conservator. This conservatorship was appointed to me by the courts. Doctors will have to fill out paperwork and these document will have to be submitted to the courts.

You would have complete control of all monies (SSI) and responsibility of the well being of your child. My daughter (age 37) and is not allowed to vote or to be unattended as she is mentally ill and in 1995 was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She does attend a daycare program at EasterSeals and takes the Paratransit bus daily. She loves it.

Contact your Regional Center in your neighborhood. They should be able to help with all your needs. My daughter is a client of Alta California Regional Center.

Roz in Ran­cho Mirage1294523130.02389 PostsRegistered 12/17/2007

Thank you. Did you need a lawyer and how much did it cost? I have all the documentation from the doctors, but she found an outside doctor to sign a SS form stripping me of payee status. We tried board and care and it was a disaster. A day program could be beneficial. I'll be in touch. To the rest of the readers, be aware that mental patients have rights to autonomy and can be a danger to society. Fortunately my daughter is NOT a danger, but the cuts in funding not only affect the patient but everyone in the community. It's an illness like cancer, heart disease, arthritis and deserves support. Our daughter was adopted and we did not have a clue until she was an adult. It usually presents in the late teens, early 20's.

Zoologist1294525855.0476046 PostsRegistered 9/3/2010

Need to contact a good attorney who has expertise in this area.

gameon1294529266.6134244 PostsRegistered 6/9/2007

Roz....i was a social worker....and i helped people go to court....you dont need a lawyer... you can go to the courthouse and get the papers... there is a guardian of the person and a conservator of the person...at the courthouse someone there or at a local mental health or legal aid society should explain it to you...they are very different... conservator is about the money and guardian is about their health and well-being....it might depend on the state you live in... her actions should not affect you... see if you can separate them... there are people who are court appointed called trustees or guardian ad litems who may be the first step in this process... they will investigate to ascertain that the person needs a guardian and/or conservator.... good luck with this...i know this is not an easy thing...

DeltaOne1294616624.892308 PostsRegistered 12/19/2006

Just a thought....I would also check to see if you would be held liable in case your daughter committed a crime, or did some property damage, or hurt someone, (even unintentionally) etc., just as you would be in some circumstances with a minor child. YOU may be the one to get sued, etc. Be thorough and look at ALL the pros and cons of responsibility - legally as well as monetary.

It's heartbreaking and stressful when a close family member is mentally ill. Good luck, and I wish you and your daughter all the best.

GrannySher­ry1294633487.576720 PostsRegistered 1/26/2010Proud So. Cal. South Bay native now in WA state

Roz in Redondo: Are you in RB, CA? I spent most of my life in RB and Torrance until I moved up here 1 year ago.

If you are, the South Bay has TONS of good attorneys who can help you. Call the South Bay Bar Association (in the Yellow Pages under Attorneys or Attorney Services) for a referral.

Also, almost all will give you a free 15 min. or so consultation. Just start calling. Also, look at the sections of attorneys and you'll find those that handle conservatorships.

I sincerely wish you all the best in this.

roser1294686907.257143 PostsRegistered 11/23/2010South Carolina

There are different laws is different states. Does she just make bad money choices? If so, and you can prove it, you will need a conservatorship; however, if your daughter is mentally unable to make decisions for herself, you may need to seek a guardianship. Think of it this way, a guardian takes care of the person, a conservator takes care of the money. If it's both, you may have to seek a combination guardianship/conservatorship. Of course, that is here in SC. Whatever the case, you need to speak to an attorney immediately. Usually someone who handles estate planning and trusts can help you in this matter. Good luck.

Last edited on 1/10/2011

Last edited on 1/10/2011

Last edited on 1/10/2011

equestrian­esse1294687517.6474270 PostsRegistered 6/25/2007Bay Area, CA

With something this important, I would hire a lawyer. Courts do not have to grant conservatorship to you, and you have to make a very strong legal case as to why it should be granted. I am only familiar with the process in CA, but I do know there is a lot of paperwork. If the conservatorship is granted, you are completely legally responsible for everything for your DD.

Along with the legal ramifications, have you thought about the emotional ramifications? What does your DD think of this? It might be a good idea to seek some family counseling/mediation to make sure you are all on the same page, and she is not resentful of you.

57babe1294689388.8138638 PostsRegistered 8/21/2010

I feel for you, this is a terrible situation for you and your daughter. I trust you will find the help you need.

I have a link to an author, Will Hall, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been medication-free for 13 years. His story is on page 5 of this guide, and on the very last page are a list of people who work with people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I thought you may find something in this guide or a link to someone that may be able to help you. The guide can be printed.

All the best to you and your family.

Here's the link:


Roz in Ran­cho Mirage1294726326.55389 PostsRegistered 12/17/2007

I appreciate all your advice. I will let you know what I find and have to do. You are right in that this is serious and I need the right advice and assistance. She was an older child we adopted with no medical history available. The disease is cruel because it can't be predicted in childhood. We are discovering how much misinformation and ignorance about mental illness is prevalent in the community. I'll keep you informed, my friends.

goodstuff1294762018.96717201 PostsRegistered 11/11/2008

You can check with the probate court in the county where you live to find out the process for having a person declared incompetent and a guardian/conservator appointed by the court. I am sure the details may differ somewhat in different jurisdictions, but our family recently went through this process for my Mom, who has Alzheimer's. The family had to file a motion or request with the court. The court sent a mental health professional to assess Mom at her assisted living. He declared her incompetent and recommended that a guardian/conservator be appointed to manage her affairs. Family members had to appear in court for a brief hearing, and then the Probate Judge issued the order. It may be more complicated with a condition like schizophrenia. I agree that you may be able to get some guidance and information from some of the mental health advocacy organizations you are associated with. I would be surprised if some of them don't have attorneys on staff or a list of recommended attorneys to assist with such proceedings. Best of luck to you.

Vickical1294898572.823379 PostsRegistered 8/30/2007

If you live in Redondo Beach, California, California law provides that you can apply for either conservatorship of the person or conservatorship of the estate or both. We don't use the term "guardian" for adults in California. As conservator of the person, you are responsible for making decisions regarding your daughter's medical care and living situation (home, group home, etc.). As you undoubtedly know, it is difficult with a person with schizophrenia, as they tend to go off and on their meds and their compliance with your authority will tend to depend on whether they are medicated or not.

A conservator of the estate is responsible for the management of the finances of the conservatee (your daughter). You are not going to be personally liable for her conduct or debts. Only her estate (her money) is responsible for her debts. A frequent problem for people in your daughter's situation is that even after a conservator is appointed, people will sell them cars, etc, but the conservatorship gives you the ability to undo any such transactions.

Assuming your daughter contests your petition for conservatorship, she has the right to an attorney representing her interests. An investigator will speak with you and give a recommendation to the probate judge as to whether the conservatorship is necessary. If you are expecting your daughter to protest, I think you should hire a conservatorship attorney. This is a different situation than when someone has dementia or has had a stroke and there is no real dispute about the necessity of the conservatorship. You can call and get a quote on fees....but it would depend on how complicated it gets (ie, whether the case actually goes to a hearing/trial in front of the probate judge as to whether a conservator should be appointed and whether you are the right person.)

By the way, under California law, a court order requiring the administration of psychotropic medication is needed......it is part of the conservatorship proceeding but has to be separately requested.

I used to do some conservatorships in California, but it has been some years, so my data may not be the most current. I really would urge you to talk to a lawyer about this.

I wish you the best in dealing with this difficult situation.

paie1295029002.0871539 PostsRegistered 10/29/2009
On 1/8/2011 Roz in Redondo said:

Thank you. She was able to get a credit card in a board and care facility and ran up over $3000. Also someone got her to buy a car for them. I'm worried about responsibility and liability. She is home with us now on her meds, but still has the right to her own income to spend on liquor and cigarettes. If I put her out, she will be on the street. She has rights and I can't risk my own financial security by taking responsibility for what she does. She has schizophrenia.

The mother of a good friend of mine had similiar type problems....was appointed legal guardian (or however the term is used) over a daughter that was schizophrenic. The daughter was very hard to control so eventually the mother had to have her become a ward of the state. The girl now lives in a mental health facility. She can leave the facility with family members only. Seems to be working out well for them.

Roz in Ran­cho Mirage1295216391.197389 PostsRegistered 12/17/2007

I greatly appreciate he advice and support. She is safely at home and has a loving family which is better than many mentally ill people seen on the streets. In CA no one can be locked down without a court order, and then it's only temporary. Civil rights of the patient prevail.

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