Every adult in California is presumed to be competent and capable of making his or her own decisions unless a court determines otherwise, either in a conservatorship or in a Guardian Ad Litem appointment proceeding. If a person becomes incapable of making good decisions for his or her own benefit, due to a mental disability or mental incapacity, the court will appoint a substitute decision-maker, often called a “conservator” and in certain legal cases, a “guardian ad litem.”
Conservatorships are legal decision-maker relationships between a competent adult (the “conservator”) and a person who because of incapacity is no longer able to take care of his or her own affairs (the “conservatee”).
When a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to make legal decisions on case-specific matters, the disabled person is referred to as a “ward.” Sometimes, there is a Guardian Ad Litem at the same time as the conservator, but the court determines who has priority in decision-making. Usually, a Guardian Ad Litems’ orders are limited to certain cases, and are not broad.
The Conservator can be authorized to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for the disabled person or conservatee. Depending on the order for conservatorship and the state’s local practices, the conservator may or may not have to seek court approval for various decisions.
To talk to us about the presumption of capacity in Los Angeles County, call Conservatorships attorney, Mina Sirkin at 818.340.4479.