Alternatives To Conservatorship
Planning Ahead/Alternatives to Conservatorship
Many individuals, due to the aging process or because of other physical conditions, become functionally impaired. This means that they may be unable to carry out the normal activities of daily living, such as cooking, shopping, banking without assistance from others. There are some financial and legal alternatives available that may be helpful.
Direct Deposit Automatic Deductions
Individuals who receive checks from government sources can arrange to have his/her checks directly deposited to his/her financial institution. This will help insure that the check will not be stolen, misplaced or destroyed. In some situations having monthly bills (such as for utilities and mortgage) automatically paid through a savings or checking account can resolve problems.
Bill Paying Services
It is possible, for a monthly fee, to arrange for bill paying services. For-profit case management organizations may be able to do this. The Area Agency on Aging (707) 643-1798 has a no-fee bill paying sevice for people who live in Vallejo. Call APS at (707) 784-8259 or Area Agency on Aging at (800) 510-2020 to get referrals for for-profit case management organizations.
Representative Payee
This option gives an individual the right to receive, sign and cash another person's Social Security check. The representative payee is then also responsible to help that impaired person manage his/her financial affairs. This option can be especially helpful for those who have mental or physical disabilities and are willing to allow another trustworthy individual or an agency to manage his/her funds. Call Social Security (800) 772-1213 to get instructions and make an appointment. A person convicted of a felony cannot be designated a representative payee.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a written document in which an individual gives another person power to handle some aspect of his/her legal or financial affairs. The Durable Power of Attorney, signed while a person is mentally competent, becomes effective when the person becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
Advance Health Care Directive
The Advance Health Care Directive has replaced the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. An Advance Health Care Directive permits a person to appoint a health care agent as well as give instructions about health care. Doctors and staff members of a health facility or operators of a community care facility may not be appointed as a person's agent unless that person is related by blood, marriage or adoption. Signed copies of the form should be given to the appointed agent, health care providers and be readily availabe to relatives and significant others.

For more information about Advance Health Care Directives, see the California Medical Association's website at www.cmanet.org or call (800) 882-1262.
Medical Treatment
There is a provision in the California Probate Code (Sections 3200-3212) for a petition to be filed to determine that a person lacks mental capacity to make health care decisions. The Court can designate a person (relative, friend, physician, or health care institution) to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient. Emergency medical treatment can be provided by established legal procedures in hospital emergency departments.