A conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a judge appoints a responsible person (a “conservator”) to care for another adult who cannot care for him or herself or his and/or her finances (a “conservatee”). Limited and general probate conservatorship proceedings are perhaps the most common, although temporaryabsentee (missing person); and involuntary mental-health (LPS[1]) conservatorships also exist.

limited conservatorship (Probate Code §§ 1827.5, 1828.5, 1830, & 2351.5) is used for a person who is developmentally disabled. A conservator of this type has limited powers to ensure that the conservatee may live as independently as possible. A general probate conservatorship (Probate Code § 1800, et seq.) is for all other adults who, due to physical injury, advanced age, dementia, or other factors, are unable to provide for their personal or financial needs. In a general probate conservatorship, a conservator may become responsible for the person, the estate, or both.

Since a conservatorship bestows legal control of one person’s financial or personal needs to another, compliance with the applicable statutory requirements is very important. The process of establishing a conservatorship begins by serving notice to the proposed conservatee, followed by a court-appointed investigation whereby a recommendation is made to the court. After a conservator is appointed, he or she must submit periodic reports to the court, including an accounting of all transactions made on behalf of the conservatee. These regular reports allow the court to monitor the actions of the conservator and, if needed, to terminate an irresponsible or unwilling conservator and appoint a new individual in his or her place.




In Sacramento County, a Conservator is required to view one of two 60-minute videos before appointment, either With Heart, Understanding Conservatorship, or Becoming a Conservator; and complete and file a local county  form (PR/E-LP-020) verifying that they have watched the video (Local Rule 15.104). Prospective conservators may make arrangements to view either video for free in the Law Library (call 916-874-8541 to reserve the video and the room), or check one out to view at home (we require a $50 cash deposit unless you have a SCPLL card). With Heart, Understanding Conservatorship is also available online for free at




These books are highly regarded “plain English” explanations of the law, written by attorneys or other legal experts.  They include basic legal discussion and procedures, forms with instructions, and models of other documents that may be required. Many of the books have CDs that supplement the text and provide interactive forms. You can find all of these titles, and more, in the Library’s Self Help Collection on the First Floor.

The Conservatorship Book for California KFC 112 .G65
Published by Nolo Press, the premier publisher of “plain-English” do-it-yourself self-help legal books.

Handbook for Conservators  KFC 112 .Z9 W57
This handbook, published by Judicial Council of California, is available in English and Spanish. It is required reading for proposed conservators.
Electronic Access:


California legal encyclopedias and law summaries provide a summary of California law on specific topics, including conservatorship. These materials include references to applicable statutes and cases.

California Jurisprudence (Cal Jur) Third  KFC 80 .C35
Located under “Guardianship and Conservatorship,” relevant topics include “Establishment of Conservatorship in General,” “Procedure for Appointment of Conservator,” and “Periodic Review.”
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using Westlaw.

Summary of California Law, 10th Edition  KFC 80 .W57
Chapter 17 addresses both guardianship and conservatorship, and section D, Conservatorship,” includes information on appointment, review, termination, and legal capacity.
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using Westlaw.




Although much of our audio visual material is directed to attorneys so that they can fill their required Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements, people representing themselves may also find these resources useful. You may make arrangements to listen to or view this material for free in the Law Library (call 916-874-8541 to reserve the material and the room) or check it out to listen to or view at home (we require a $100 cash deposit unless you have a SCPLL card).  Note: You may only check out two Audio Visual items at a time.

Conservatorships KFC 112 .C667

Conservatorships: the Basics  KFC 112 .A75 C66

Planning for and Dealing with a Client’s IncapacityKFC110 .P74




Although practice guides are written for attorneys, people representing themselves may also find these resources useful. These materials provide more detailed information than self-help books. Most include sample forms.

Bancroft-Whitney’s California Civil Practice:  Probate and Trust  Proceedings
KFC 205 .A6 B36
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using Westlaw.

California Conservatorship Practice  KFC 112 .C34
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using OnLAW.

California Domestic PartnershipsKFC 115 .C336
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using OnLAW.

California Judges Benchguide Vol. 5 (Probate/Conservatorship) KFC 112 .C36
Electronic Access:
Conservator appointment, powers:
Conservatorship proceedings:

Handling a Fiduciary Accounting: Here’s How and When To Do It KFC 188 .I84
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using OnLAW.




Formbooks contain copies and/or examples of documents and forms used in conservatorship proceedings. Some formbooks include copies of completed documents and forms to provide guidance for completing these papers.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Annotated  KFC 1010 .A65 C3
Volume 24 contains Chapter 280, “Guardianship and Conservatorship: Appointment,” to Chapter 290, “Guardianship and Conservatorship: Termination.”
Electronic Access:  On the law library computers, using the LexisNexis CD.

Law Office Procedures Manual KFC 77 .L44
Chapter K, “Conservatorships.”

Probate Procedures Manual  KFC 205 .A65 P76

California Judicial Council Formsare available at
(Select “Probate – Guardianships and Conservatorships” from the drop-down menu)

Sacramento County Local Conservatorship Forms are available at:



The California Probate Code, Section 1800 et. seq,  governs conservatorship proceedings in California. The Probate Code is available at the law library in several annotated (includes summaries of cases interpreting the laws) print versions and on the Internet at the California State Legislature’s website in unannotated (includes only the laws) form.



Conservatorship proceedings in California are governed by the California Rules of Court (Title 7, Probate; Chap. 22, Conservatorship). Most California counties also have local probate court rules that govern conservatorship proceedings. The state and local county court rules are available at the library in print and for free on the Internet.



Duties of a Conservator
The California Courts Self-Help Center website contains information on establishing and terminating a conservatorship in California. Also available in Spanish.

The Santa Clara County Superior Court

This website offers a useful Q&A guide on conservatorships.

Disability Rights California
This organization offers a guide on probate conservatorship from the perspective of the conservatee.



[1]  LPS comes from the names of the California legislators who wrote the LPS Act in the 1970s: Lanterman, Petris, and Short. The LPS Act is codified at Welfare & Institutions Code §§ 5000 et seq.

updated 10/11 kb

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