Your voice matters in each of the life decisions you make. But a limited conservatorship in the state of California allows a judge to determine if someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities, called a “conservatee,” can make their own decisions. The judge can take away some of their rights and assign another qualified individual, called a “conservator,” to make crucial decisions for them.
So, how much say does a limited conservator really have?
Drawing the line
You can suggest your limited conservator, either a family member or a friend, as long as that person is 18 years or older. However, the judge can appoint someone else even after considering your suggestion. The chosen limited conservator must commit to strictly limited powers specified in the orders and letters of conservatorship. In short, it is not within a limited conservator’s powers to make you do the following:
- Force any kind of medication on you
- Approve sterilization to prevent you from childbearing
- Authorize any form of unsafe treatment
- Admit you to a mental institution
- Consent to your psychotherapy
- Proceed with powers not explicitly instructed by the court
A limited conservator’s legal role is to support you toward an independent life and not interfere with your life choices.
If it’s not working out
If disagreements between you and your limited conservator persist, you have the option to terminate the process. A court hearing takes place with you and your legal representative before a judge. However, if the conservator agrees with your decision, a hearing is unnecessary. The court may pursue less restrictive alternatives and end the limited conservatorship.
The goal of limited conservatorship is to help a person with physical or mental impairments still protect their rights even if they cannot fully decide on their own. Thus, the limited conservator must respect and always act in the conservatee’s best interests.