Guardianship is a legal term used to define the appointment of one person to care for another person who is unable to care for themselves, either due to age, or because he or she is physically incapacitated or mentally incompetent (due to age, injury, mental health issues or mental illness).

In California, a guardianship for an adult is called a conservatorship. A conservatorship action is commenced upon the filing of a Petition for Appointment of Probate Conservator with the California Superior Court. A conservatorship results when the Court (typically a probate department Judge) appoints a responsible adult (known as a conservator) to act on behalf of another adult (conservatee)because the adult is not able to manage his or her estate (financial assets, real or personal property or business interests) or his or her person (physical care, health, safety).

In California, the term guardianship is typically used when a minor is involved. A guardianship action may be commenced by an individual or a legal agency because of concerns for the health, safety and well-being of the minor child, or when the minor’s parent or custodian is unable to properly care for the minor.

A guardianship results when the Court determines that a responsible adult (the guardian) should have legal custody and control over the minor (the ward) and appoints a guardian to be responsible for making decisions about the child’s personal affairs, financial issues and physical care (including education, health care and nutrition).

In an emergency situation, you should contact the police or County Protective Services if you believe that abuse is occurring which needs to be immediately investigated. Otherwise, we suggest that you consult with an attorney if you believe that a minor child is in need of a guardian and / or a Special Needs Trust.