Contested conservatorships are particularly difficult and acrimonious. I have extensive experience in contested conservatorship litigation. While I represent individuals seeking a conservatorship, I increasingly am called on to represent those opposing conservatorships due to conservatorship abuse. This often includes family members and occasionally the person for whom the conservatorship is being sought. As to the latter, for example, I successfully represented an elderly gentleman who clearly had sufficient capacity, but whose adult child improperly sought to have him conserved. Conservatorships are among the most serious legal matters as they can involve potentially taking away the civil rights of a proposed conservatee.
Spouses seeking a conservatorship of a spouse with dementia usually are genuinely concerned about looking out for what is in the best interests of the incapacitated spouse. However, there are times when that is not the case, such as when the spouse physically and/or financially abuses the frail spouse. More often in contested conservatorship cases it is the adult children who are fighting over control of the allegedly incapacitated parent/parents. While families will sometimes come together and attempt to cooperate, through informal negotiation or mediation, other times they will not, and unpleasant, expensive litigation can ensue. I have both experience and passion in forcefully advocating for clients in these contentious matters.
As a member of the complex conservatorship panel for court-appointed attorneys for conservatees in Contra Costa County I strive to protect the best interests of a proposed conservatee client. Unfortunately, however, some court-appointed attorneys are more financially motivated for themselves in contested conservatorship of the estate matters and I have been involved in such litigation matters in which I successfully fought for clients against them as well as the opposing side. I also represent ethical private professional fiduciaries who may be appointed by the court when relatives file competing conservatorship petitions. But, again, even professional fiduciaries can sometimes be more a part of the problem than the solution and I have represented clients seeking to keep them in check or remove them.
I previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Contra Costa County Bar Association Elder Law Section and continue to be actively involved in issues affecting elderly and disabled persons, including conservatorship reform.