Every California resident, age 18 or older, needs a Durable General Power of Attorney and a Power of Attorney for Health Care. If you don’t have these important estate planning documents in place and you become incapacitated, your family will have to go to court for a conservatorship. Conservatorships cost a lot of money, take time, are stressful, and are public.
Bruce was only 46 years of age when he suffered an unexpected stroke. Because he was a single parent, worked two jobs, and thought he had years and years to do his estate planning, he did not have a Durable General Power of Attorney or a Power of Attorney for Health Care in place.
At only age 46, Bruce was incapacitated. He couldn’t function. He couldn’t deal with his day to day business affairs or pay his bills. The doctors needed to provide medical treatment, yet Bruce couldn’t understand, communicate, or consent.
Bruce’s best friend, Max, petitioned the court to be appointed conservator to act on his behalf. Max had to hire medical witnesses, a lawyer to represent Bruce, and a lawyer to represent himself as petitioner.
Max and the medical witnesses testified that Bruce was incapacitated. Bruce sat, listened, and cried.
Because Max wasn’t a relative and had a bad credit history, the court appointed a local attorney as conservator for Max’s finances. Max was given authority to make medical decisions for Bruce.
The conservator took over the finances with the court’s supervision. It was four years until Bruce was able to regain capacity and assume his own finances. All of Bruce’s assets, including his home and life savings, were gone due to life expenses, the conservator’s professional fees, and court fees.
Although nothing could have prevented Bruce’s stroke, the entire conservator process could have been avoided with the help of our San Diego Estate Planning Attorney.