How do I set up a conservatorship for my mother?

3 answers | Last updated: Dec 08, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has been seriously incapacitated by a stroke, and we need to sell some stock from her portfolio to pay for nursing home care. How do I establish a conservatorship to enable me to do this?

Expert Answers

Philip Feldman is a partner in charge of the trusts and estates practice at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass in San Francisco.

Stop and figure out whether you really need a conservatorship immediately. It's not always necessary. If you need to sell stock to finance her care, start by calling the broker and finding out what information or documents he requires to complete the transaction. You may find that the brokerage firm will let you write a check on your parent's account without a legal conservatorship. It may only require a signed durable power of attorney for finance, or a multiple-party account. Depending on your relationship with the brokerage company, it may have other solutions that will allow the transactions to proceed. And you may be able to make all these things happen without a conservatorship.

If not, find an eldercare attorney in the county in which your mother resides. Explain the situation. A good attorney should be able to go into court ex parte, on an emergency basis, and establish a conservatorship, with you named as conservator, on an expedited basis. Expect this job to entail at least five to ten hours of attorney time. Remember, you don't need an attorney from a big (and probably expensive) firm to do this. Often the attorneys who handle such matters are sole practitioners, or are in smaller firms. In some areas paralegal services can help you complete this process yourself, which will likely be cheaper. Call your local county bar association for referrals.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I had to hire a lawyer, have a court appointed representative come into our home and interview my husband, send her report to the court, we had to appear in court with our lawyer. This took about 3 months total and the cost was about $1700. All of this, so I could access his long term care policy to get care for him. I had to go back to court this year, or our lawyer did, to get specific permission to change his IRA and life insurance payment. What a hassle.

A fellow caregiver answered...

If you have a trust set up, with all the necessary power of attn and medical responsibility and you are a co trustee, you may not need to do any of this, I asked my attny about conservatorship and he said I don't need it as it is all built in my trust that I can do anything necessary concerning my husbands care and that included his long term care insurance. A trust makes life so much easier and I urge all married couples especially after 50 to handle this while you can so these problems are alleviated.