Yesterday I sat in on probate conservatorship hearings and limited conservatorship hearings. There are two things I would like to address today about the hearings I saw.
The first is unnecessary conservatorships. The first family had a developmentally disabled daughter who suffered from global developmental delays. She however, could voice an opinion for herself, listened and took the advice of her family members if it was in her best favour, and did not object to having her parents serve as proposed co conservators. The parents asked for all seven powers and the conservatee only objected to the 7th power (right to control social sexual contacts/marriage). The judge called their case and when presenting their case the parents asked for a conservatorship over their daughter out of concern for what she might do in the future. Like LPS conservatorships, conservatorship is not used just as a preventative action. The judge reminded the parents that conservatorships stripped a person of their constitutional rights. He kept on arguing that the conservatee has the potential to act against what was in her best even though there was no prior actions indicating that she had gone against advice that was in her own best interests.
The second point that I would like to really address is that probate conservatorships are NOT LPS conservatorships. Too often parents will have an autistic child and come to court saying I would like complete control over my loved one's life. I would like to dictate where they would stay, who they may see, what medications and doctors they see, etc...... This is not the purpose of an probate conservatorship. A probate conservatorship has lower standard of proof because the powers granted to the conservator are far less restrictive. The conservator does not have the right to lock the conservatee in a facility against their will. or administer psychotropic medication against the conservatee's will.
The judge ended up granting the petition and both parents were appointed as co conservators over her person. However, there was an 30 minute delay as the parents were reminded of what a conservatorship was and how it was used as a last resort when no other alternatives could be found. He discussed how the daughter was not a criminal deemed incompetent to stand trial or an LPS conservatee. He said these are the only two circumstances where the conservatee would lose their rights. Otherwise the conservatee should maintain their rights.
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Juvenile Dependency and