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Who is Entitled to Notice of a Petition to Establish a Conservatorship?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Firm News

The simple answer is that a lot of people, and potentially entities, are entitled to notice when a petition for the appointment of a conservator is filed.  The idea of including a wide scope of individuals or entities to be aware of the proposed appointment of a conservator for an individual is to ensure that it is an appropriate proceeding and that the proposed conservator is appropriate.

The specifics of who is entitled to notice is found in Probate Code §1822.  That section details that 15 days before the hearing on the petition for appointment, notice of the petition must be given to the spouse or registered domestic partner of the conservatee and the relatives named in the petition.   The Petition for Appointment of Probate Conservator (Form GC-310) at item 11 on page 7 of the current form requires the names, residence addresses, and relationships of the relatives to the second-degree which includes parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters.  Even if the individuals such as children or grandchildren are minors, they are still entitled to notice.  I have had conservatorship cases where parents, who are the children of the proposed conservatee, get frustrated when we keep sending notice to their two year-old child who is entitled to notice because they are the grandchild of the proposed conservatee.

The entities that are entitled to notice include the following:

  • Director of State Hospitals or the Director of Developmental Services – notice to these agencies is required when the proposed conservatee is a patient in or on leave from a state hospital under these agencies’ jurisdiction.
  • Veterans Administration – if the proposed conservatee is receiving or entitled to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, then the Benefits Administration is entitled to notice.
  • Local Regional Center – if the proposed conservatee has a developmental disability or the petition is for a limited conservatorship, the local regional center is entitled to 30 days’ notice of the hearing on the petition.
  • Public Guardian of the county where the petition is being filed – this notice is required when the petition and the proposed conservator has no prior relationship with the proposed conservatee and the proposed conservator was not nominated.  This typically comes up when the proposed conservator is a licensed private fiduciary.
  • Secretary or head of the U.S. Government Department or Agency – this is required when the proposed conservatee is an absentee (person in military service or state department).

Additionally, anyone who has filed a Request for Special Notice must be included.  I typically include any agents or attorney-in-facts named in the proposed conservatee’s Durable Power of Attorney or Advance Health Care Directive.  Some counties may require notice to these individuals in their local rules so it is always a good idea to check those before filing.  If the court has appointed counsel for the proposed conservatee or the proposed conservatee has hired an attorney, then notice to them is required.

Notice to the individuals and the agencies referenced above can be done by mail with the appropriate forms.

Notice to the proposed conservatee is different in that they have to be personally served with a copy of the petition and a Citation for Conservatorship.  Even if the proposed conservatee is in a coma, then personal service of the petition has to be provided. Again, this requirement ensures that the person receives the petition so they have an opportunity to object to it.   If the proposed conservatee is missing, then instead of personal service, then notice must be published in a newspaper.  A citation is not required if the proposed conservatee is an absentee.

If in doubt as to whether a person is entitled to notice of the Petition for Appointment of a Probate Conservator, then notice should be sent.  The downside of not providing notice is that the court could determine that it was required and continue the hearing.  In some counties, this could mean a six month wait until the next hearing.

There are different notice requirements for a petition for appointment of a temporary conservator and other types of petitions in a conservatorship.  It is important to review the Probate Code sections specific for those petitions, to review the county’s local rules and the California Rules of Court to make sure that all notice requirements are met.