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Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 in Rosanna Kendrick |

News Affecting Seniors

CHANGES TO CONSERVATORSHIP LAWS WHICH MAY AFFECT YOU

By Rosanna KendrickRKPHOTO

As each new year begins in California, journalists and residents love to try and get a handle on the various new laws taking effect on January 1st (or other dates throughout the year). California’s conservatorship law saw major updates this year, which are of particular interest to members of the senior community. The California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act (“CCJA”) [1] became operative on January 1, 2016, after being approved by the governor in September 2014.[2]

A conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a conservator is appointed to care for a person who no longer is able to care for himself or herself, or no longer able to manage his or her own finances (or both).[3] While most seniors hope to avoid conservatorship, some inevitable situations arise for a small number of seniors where conservatorship becomes necessary later in life.

Seniors may own property in more than one state, move to live with children in another state, or frequent services in two bordering states. In the past, conservators overseeing these common occurrences could end up having to engage in duplicative and expensive court proceedings to satisfy courts of different jurisdictions. Since 2007, the Uniform Law Commission (“ULC”) has been working to create a more straightforward process to deal with the reality conservators and conservatees many times need to move, travel, and transact business in more than one state.[4]

Currently, 42 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have enacted uniform laws on this issue, commonly referred to as “Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.”[5] Legislation has also been introduced in Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and the U.S. Virgin islands.[6] The only remaining states without such legislation are Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida.[7]

California’s version of the UAGPPJA, the CCJA, encompasses broad changes. The act includes definitive solutions for jurisdiction issues, transferring cases into and out of California, and registering and recognizing orders from other states or Indian tribal courts. For purposes of complying with the act, several new Judicial Council forms were created and other forms were updated.

In addition to the CCJA, courts recently provided new guidance and forms for fee waiver requests in conservatorship cases. Beginning in September 2015, petitioners in conservatorship cases could request court fees be waived based upon a petitioner’s representation of the proposed conservatee’s financial status.[8]

California’s courts and litigants will surely encounter some hiccups and growing pains while adapting to the new direction of conservatorship law enacted by the CCJA. However, this new path should offer both conservators and conservatees a more practicable way to avoid confusion and resolve future transactions.

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  1. [1] Located in California Probate Code sections 1980 to 2033.
  2. [2] http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB940
  3. [3] http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-conservatorship.htm
  4. [4] The Uniform Law Commission (“ULC”) is a non-profit association which prepares non-partisan legislation and advocates for states to develop uniform laws. http://www.uniformlaws.org/Narrative.aspx?title=About%20the%20ULC
  5. [5]Accessed on March 4, 2016: http://www.uniformlaws.org/LegislativeFactSheet.aspx?title=Adult%20Guardianship%20and%20Protective%20Proceedings%20Jurisdiction%20Act
  6. [6] Accessed March 4, 2016: http://www.uniformlaws.org/Act.aspx?title=Adult%20Guardianship%20and%20Protective%20Proceedings%20Jurisdiction%20Act
  7. [7] Id.
  8. [8] California Rules of Court 3.50-3.53; 8.26