By Erika Gasaway, Esq.
Hopkins & Carley
Headnote: Supported decision-making as an alternative to the probate conservatorship system
Summary: Assembly Bill No. 1663, which was chaptered on September 30, 2022, became law on January 1, 2023. The new provisions are aimed at providing adults with disabilities and elders with less restrictive alternatives to conservatorships and making it easier for a conservatee to end a conservatorship. It reforms existing conservatorship law by:
- giving preference to the proposed conservatee’s choice of conservator and prohibits Regional Centers from serving as conservators except as a designee of the Director of Developmental Services (Prob. Code, § 1812);
- requiring petitioners to apprise the court of any alternatives to conservatorship explored by the petitioner, if any, including but not limited to (i) supported decision-making agreements, (ii) powers of attorney, (iii) Advance Health Care Directives, and (iv) designations of a health care surrogate;
- codifying supported decision-making in limited conservatorships (Welf. Inst. Code, § 21000-21008);
- requiring the court to provide, annually, information to conservatees in its jurisdiction with a list of the conservatees’ rights (Prob. Code, § 1835.5);
- requiring court investigators to report on the status of cases after six months and after one year (Prob Code, § 1850); and
- requiring the Judicial Council to establish a “conservatorship alternatives program” (Prob. Code, § 1836).
Many of the foregoing new mandates are as yet unfunded, and the Superior Court is not required to assume many of these new duties until the Legislature makes an appropriation identified for that purpose. As a result, these new changes may not take effect for some time.