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What is a conservatorship and how is it obtained? Ask the lawyer

Q: With all the news about Britney Spears, I have three questions: what is a conservatorship?

-K.L., Camarillo

Ron Sokol

A: There are two basic types of conservatorship in California: general and limited. General refers to taking care of the person and his or her finances because of the person’s incapacity. Limited is for people with disabilities. Research indicates there also is a mental health conservatorship known as an LPS (short for the Lanterman-Petris-Short  Act), by which the conservator has responsibility for overseeing the comprehensive medical treatment for an adult who has a serious mental illness.

Q: Second question: How is a conservatorship obtained?

-K.L., Camarillo

A: It is important (and, in my view, necessary) to consult with a qualified specialist because seeking a conservatorship can be a delicate, costly and intensive endeavor. Briefly, I can indicate that a formal petition is filed with the court, which includes information about the proposed conservator, reasons why a conservatorship is necessary and should be granted, and why potential alternatives are not available. There are forms and papers to be completed, which must be served on the conservatee, with notice mailed to the conservatee’s spouse or domestic partner, and close relatives. This includes written notice about the court hearing during which a determination will carefully be made as to whether a conservatorship is going to be granted. A bond typically is required if a conservator is appointed.

Q: Final question: What do you think will happen in the Britney Spears case?

-K.L., Camarillo

A: At the time this column is written, Jamie Spears (her father) has agreed to step down as conservator, but my understanding is that he has made request for payments due, including to the law firm assisting him. Britney Spears’s lawyer has in mind a replacement to serve as conservator, which the court will consider (and may approve). As to whether there will be ongoing disputes between the pop star and her father remains to be seen.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at

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Source: Orange County Register

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