Trusts and Estates

Conservatorship of A.E.

Cite as B297092
Filed February 18, 2020, Second District, Div. Six

By Daniel C. Kim
Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation

Headnote: Conservatorships – Due Process Rights

Summary: A proposed conservatee must appear at the conservatorship hearing unless certain exceptions are met.

A.E. was 26 years old, suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder, and had lived with her mother for most of her life. On September 25, 2018, A.E.’s mother petitioned to be appointed conservator of the person so that she could authorize medical treatment. A.E. had a painful tooth abscess that no dentist would treat without a court order. The court sua sponte ordered Ventura County Public Guardian as the permanent conservator and denied the mother’s petition. The record was silent on whether A.E. was asked if she wanted to attend the hearing or agreed to the public guardian conservatorship. A.E.’s mother appealed.

The appellate court reversed. A proposed conservatee is presumed to be competent and retains all his or her legal and civil rights. The Probate Code requires that a proposed conservatee appear at a conservatorship hearing unless certain exceptions are met. The trial court failed to make the requisite finding that A.E. did not want to attend the hearing, could not be produced for the hearing due to medical inability, or that her appearance was likely to cause serious and immediate physiological damage. The trial court was precluded from ruling on the merits of the petition without meeting one of the applicable exceptions.

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