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When Does a Conservatorship End?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Firm News

How and when a conservatorship ends depends on the type of conservatorship.

A conservatorship of the person automatically terminates by operation of law when the conservatee dies.  The conservator must file the Judicial Council Form Notice of Death of Conservatee with the court.  If the proceeding was just a conservatorship of the person, then the matter is concluded and nothing more needs to be done.

A conservatorship of the estate does not automatically terminate upon the death of the conservatee because the conservator must still account to the court and provide notice to the conservatee’s successors-in-interest (i.e., personal representative of the conservatee’s probate estate).  A final accounting is done through the date of death of the conservatee and then a supplemental accounting  from the date of death through the date of filing petition or exhaustion of funds must be filed.  These must be approved by the court and it discharges the conservator.  Some courts will allow the successors-in-interest to waive the requirement of a supplemental accounting if they are all capacitated adults.  The exhaustion of funds in a conservatorship of the estate even if the conservatee is still living will also terminate a conservatorship of the estate so long as there are no other reasons to retain the conservatorship of the estate.

In a limited conservatorship, the conservatorship terminates due to the death of the conservatee and it also terminates upon the death of the conservator.  In general conservatorships I advise against co-conservators especially with a conservatorship of the estate due to issues with financial institutions.  But, in limited conservatorships, especially for conservatorships of the person, I will recommend co-conservators even up to three individuals (i.e., parents and a sibling).  This is due to the fact that a limited conservatorship terminates on the death of the conservator and having co-conservators eliminates the need to go through the conservatorship process again due to the death of the last conservator.

If a co-conservator dies, resigns, or is removed, for either a limited or a general conservatorship, the remaining conservators should request that amended Letters be issued to reflect the current conservators.

A general or limited conservatorship can terminate by court order if the conservatorship is no longer needed.  It is rare, but there are circumstances where the conservatee’s capacity and ability to manage their medical needs and finances improves and a conservator of the person and estate are unnecessary.  This is typically supported by a current Capacity Declaration showing capacity, counsel for the conservatee supporting the termination, a probate court investigator’s report supporting termination, and the local regional center providing a report supporting the termination. This may be more likely in a limited conservatorship and the Probate Code has been changed recently to make it easier for a limited conservatee to terminate their conservatorship by not requiring a petition to be filed.  In a limited conservatorship, a court will be more inclined to terminate the proceedings if there is a supportive decision making agreement in place if the conservatee still requires some assistance with finances, daily living activities and medical decisions.

Other circumstances that warrant the termination of a conservatorship include if an absentee conservatee returns and has capacity, the conservator does not make the conservatee available to the probate court investigator to perform investigation regarding whether the conservatorship should continue, and transfer of proceedings to another state and no real property remains in California.