Probate Court – Conservatorships Print this Page
Phone: (415) 444-7040
Location: Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room 113
Office Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm

General or Limited Conservatorships

A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a qualified person to manage financial affairs and/or the personal care of an individual who is either physically or mentally unable to handle his or her own affairs. A person or organization the judicial officer appoints to do this is known as the "conservator." A conservator can be a family member, friend or professional person. The person who cannot care for him or herself is called the "conservatee."

A conservatorship of the person ends when the conservatee dies or the conservatee regains the ability to handle his or her own personal affairs. A conservatorship of the estate ends when the Court terminates the conservatorship.

There are two types of conservatorships:

  • A Limited Probate Conservatorship applies when the conservatee is developmentally disabled. In this type of conservatorship, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible.
  • A General Probate Conservatorship is for all other adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to physical injury, advanced age, dementia, or other conditions rendering them incapable of caring for themselves or making them subject to undue influence.

Once a Petition for Conservatorship has been filed, the Court will set the matter for hearing. Court investigators are assigned to interview all persons who are the subject of a petition for conservatorship before the first hearing is held. The court investigator may interview numerous family members, neighbors and others to provide as much information as possible to the Court to assist in making a determination as to whether to grant the conservatorship. When interviewing the proposed conservatee, the purpose of the interview is to determine whether the person understands the proceedings or has any objections to them.

A conservator, once appointed by the Court, must complete several steps before the Clerk of the Court can issue Letters of Conservatorship. The Letters of Conservatorship are the documents that verifies you have been legally appointed to act on behalf of the conservatee. The steps are:

  1. Complete and retain a copy of the form Duties of Conservator and Acknowledgment of Receipt of “Handbook for Conservators" (Judicial Council Form GC-348). This form provides a summary of your duties and responsibilities;
  2. Download a copy of the "Handbook for Conservators" or purchase a CD from the Clerk of the Court for $20.00;
  3. View the film, "With Heart: Understanding Conservatorships";
  4. Complete local form PR034 - Declaration of Proposed Conservator’s Viewing of Film to verify that you have viewed the video and file it with the Clerk of the Court.

After a conservatorship appointment has been made, court investigators regularly interview both the conservator and the conservatee and report to the Court about the well-being of the conservatee and whether the conservatee's estate is being properly managed. Investigators review the accountings submitted at regular intervals by the conservator to ensure that the accountings appear reasonable and accurate.

When the Court appoints an individual as conservator of a person, the conservator shall:

  1. Arrange for the conservatee's care and protection;
  2. Decide where the conservatee will live; and
  3. Take charge of health care, food, clothes, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, and recreation for the conservatee.

When the Court appoints an individual as conservator of an estate, the conservator shall:

  1. Manage the conservatee's finances;
  2. Protect the conservatee's income and property;
  3. Make a list of everything in the estate;
  4. Make a plan to make sure the conservatee's needs are met;
  5. Make sure the conservatee's bills are paid;
  6. Invest the conservatee's money;
  7. Make sure the conservatee gets all the benefits for which he or she is eligible;
  8. Make sure the conservatee's taxes are filed and paid on time;
  9. Keep accurate financial records; and
  10. Make regular reports of the financial accounts to the Court and other interested persons, as required by law.

Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) Conservatorships

LPS conservatorships are established under the Welfare and Institutions code to provide help for persons who are gravely disabled as a result of their mental disability. These conservatees may be a danger to themselves or others. The conservator is responsible for helping to find a placement and mental health treatment for the conservatee who is gravely disabled.

An LPS conservatorship is used only when the person needs mental health treatment but cannot or will not accept it voluntarily. Because the person subject to an LPS conservatorship may be placed in a locked facility, there are special protections to ensure that the conservatee's civil rights are protected. By law, these cases are treated as confidential.

Temporary Conservatorships

On occasion, a temporary conservatorship may be appropriate if there is an emergency that requires an immediate appointment, prior to the conservatorship hearing date. A petition for temporary conservatorship can be filed at the same time as the petition for limited or general conservatorship. It may not be filed separately from a conservatorship. A Petition for Appointment of a Temporary Conservator should have all information supporting the need for emergency orders, including copies of all relevant medical, police, or Adult Protective Services reports. Please contact the Court Investigators at (415) 444-7090 to set a hearing to be appointed as temporary conservator.


The instructions and forms required to open a conservatorship case can be accessed by clicking here.

Further assistance is available from the California Courts Online Self-Help Center.


The Probate Court has jurisdiction over the following types of matters:

  • Decedent's Estate and Trusts
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships [including Limited Conservatorships (developmentally disabled persons) and Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) Conservatorships)]
  • Other Probate Case Types (including Commitments of Developmentally Challenged Persons; Establishment of Fact of Birth, Death or Marriage; Minor's Compromise; and Riese Hearings)
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