Trusts and Estates

Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2016, Volume 22, Issue 3

CONSERVATORSHIP ACCOUNTINGS: HOW TO GET STARTED AND WHAT TO TELL YOUR CLIENTS TO STAY ON TIME!

By Patricia A. Wenthe*

I. ESTABLISHING THE CONSERVATORSHIP

Initially, an attorney meets a prospective new client, hears the client’s story and family history, deciphers facts from fiction, and sifts out important details. The attorney and the attorney’s staff then commence collecting information needed to complete a number of Judicial Council forms, and soon thereafter, the client becomes a fiduciary. In that initial process, the attorney should calendar, and inform the client regarding, the requirements and due date for the conservator’s accounting.

Often, the establishment of the conservatorship (especially when a matter involves litigation) is so labor-intensive that the long-term administration basics are minimized, overlooked, or set aside for a future agenda. However, advising the conservator about the appropriate manner to handle the conservatee’s assets, and the many tasks required of a fiduciary, requires diligence and planning sooner rather than later. These tasks include the need to maintain financial documents, to ensure that the required original financial documents are in hand, and to record transaction details. The attorney can assign these administration tasks to staff members or the account preparer, so the attorney can focus on other aspects of the conservatorship. This article highlights the tasks, activities, misunderstandings and practice issues that arise in conservatorship accountings, and highlights those conservatorship requirements that cause avoidable delays.

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