A conservatorship, once ordered by a Superior Court judge in California, deprives a person of the right to control his or her financial affairs or person, or both. When the judge appoints counsel for the proposed conservatee, what is the lawyer’s role? Are the lawyer’s ordinary duties of loyalty and confidentiality diminished in the conservatorship setting? Should they be?
These are vexing questions that have led to varying approaches in California’s 58 counties. We sometimes represent siblings in contested conservatorship proceedings, typically in “parent custody” disputes when siblings are vying for control over Mom and/or Dad. The approach taken by court appointed counsel is an important factor in how these cases move forward and it would be helpful to all concerned to have a more uniform approach.