As our parents age or as special needs children reach the age of majority filing for conservatorship is often necessary to continue to provide for their needs and wellbeing. The California Courts, specifically the probate division are tasked with handling conservatorship proceedings. While there are 58 Counties in California and each County may have a handful of Probate Divisions, the process, timeline and costs are typically uniform since the County Superior Courts are under the same California Judicial System. Simply put, a conservatorship case filed in Los Angeles County would likely run the same course as it would if filed in Sacramento County. For the sake of this article we will refer to the courts that handle conservatorships as “Probate Courts” or “Probate Divisions”.
When it is time to file for a conservatorship, in order to avoid time delays, knowing which court to file your case in can help. For Riverside County, there are 15 court locations but only 3 Probate Divisions that serve the residents of the County. These Probate Divisions are currently located in the Historic Courthouse in Downtown Riverside, Temecula Branch in Temecula and Larsen Justice Center in Indio. While these courts may also handle other types of filings such as civil actions, evictions, small claims and more, they have dedicated probate filing clerks as well as Probate Judge’s presiding over Probate Courtrooms. To see more information about these Probate locations for Riverside County, visit their probate page here: http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/probate/probate.shtml. Court locations, with the growth of the County as well as renovations and new court buildings, are subject to change. Also important, just because there are 3 court locations that accept conservatorship filings in Riverside County, filers are limited to just one to file at. This is in an effort by the court to allow a consistent process for all conservatorship petitioners by maintaining a uniform flow of cases at each location. For the most part your conservatorship case will be filed at the court location closest to you. These filing boundaries are restricted by zip code and you can see the specific probate court to file your conservatorship here: Where to File in Riverside County. It is important to check this before showing up at a probate court. If you show up in the wrong court location, your documents will not be filed
Now that you know the location information, a bit more about the process for filing a conservatorship in Riverside County. To start any conservatorship case a petition is filed at the clerk’s window. If you have never been inside a court, think of the clerks filing window similar to a bank. A row of counters and a line for those waiting to be helped. When it is your turn, the clerk can take your conservatorship petition, and if in order and all required attachments included, and file them into the court system. This initial conservatorship petition filing is where a unique case number is assigned and copies of the documents that were filed are returned. In almost all instances a court hearing is set up about 45-90 days out depending on the backlog of the Probate Court Calendar.
It is important to note that orders for conservatorship are not made at the clerk’s window when filing. The court hearing is set out so that the court probate examiners (probate staff) can review the filing and the details of the case, as well as the required court investigation can be completed on the proposed conservator. It also gives time for the family who are notified of the proceeding to either object or even show up at your hearing. At the conservatorship hearing, if all is in order, the Judge can then make orders and issue “Letters”. Letters of Conservatorship can be thought of as the permission slip from the court to act as conservator.
Understanding the location to file a conservatorship is valuable and important to your case, but more important is all the required forms and form attachments. It is not the job of the court clerk to check for accuracy and information on the forms provided for filing, but simply to enter them into the court system. Having problems or deficiencies on these documents could result in showing up at a court date months later and having it continued because a single form was missing. Aside from the forms are required notifications and serving requirements to be met and this could further complicate your case if you are unsure as to who should receive these and the specific methods they are required to receive them. A conservatorship filing in Riverside County can quickly turn into a burdensome process for those who are unfamiliar with court procedures or have a difficult time organizing many moving parts into one case. For those, the good news is rather than hiring an attorney, Legal Document Assistants in California are authorized by law to prepare, file and even serve conservatorship cases. These services can be quick, efficient and take the guess work out of the process.
Just Document Preparation, Legal Document Assistants in Riverside County (offices in Riverside and Murrieta) have been helping conservatorship petitioners since 1996. They prepare, file and send out required notifications for conservatorship cases. Further, they monitor your case with the Riverside County Probate Court Division to ensure all requirements are met prior to your hearing. If you need help filing a conservatorship in Riverside County contact Just Document Preparation for information about timeline, process and procedure as well as what their conservatorship document preparation entails. You can learn more about their conservatorship process here: https://justdocprep.com/document-preparation-services/conservatorship/.