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Temporary Conservator is Entitled to Reimbursement of Reasonable Expenses Regardless Of Whether Permanent Conservatorship is Established

What happens when temporary conservatorship has been established over an unwilling conservatee? Is the temporary conservator entitled to reimbursement of expenses during the period of conservatorship even if a permanent conservator was never appointed? According to the Court of Appeal on its ruling in the Conservatorship of Cornelius (--Cal.Rptr.3d ---, Cal.App. 1 Dist., November 15, 2011), the Probate Code authorizes payment to a conservator and makes no distinction between temporary and permanent conservatorships provided that the expenses were incurred in good faith and in the best interest of the conservatee.

In the Conservatorship of Cornelius, Bobbie McDonald filed petitions for temporary and permanent conservatorship over her 73-year old widower father, Bobby Jack Cornelius. The petitions were supported by declarations from several family members and his attending physician attesting to Cornelius' diminished physical and mental capacity and susceptibility to fraud being perpetrated by people he had invited to move into his house and operating a marijuana farm on the premises.

The court appointed a court investigator who conducted interviews, reviewed sheriff reports and physician's capacity declaration. The investigator found that Cornelius was in need of medical and medication supervision and proper nutrition, and is at high risk of undue influence from virtual strangers that are operating a marijuana farm in his house. The court appointed McDonald as temporary conservator. Cornelius objected to the conservatorship. McDonald then requested that a professional fiduciary be appointed temporary conservator. McDonald subsequently withdrew her petition for permanent conservatorship. The court issued an order awarding roughly $34,000 to McDonald from Cornelius estate for attorney fees and other costs incurred in the course of the conservatorship. Other costs include legal fees for seeking a restraining order against individuals defrauding Cornelius, professional fiduciary fees, reimbursement of costs incurred by McDonald for travel expenses and costs advanced, and fees for nurse case management and caregiver services. Cornelius appealed.

Tune in for more on this topic on subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.