Options to help someone with an impairment or disability
There are many options for assistance, both through the courts and other community services. If you're considering options through the courts, like a conservatorship, you must show that less restrictive options, like the ones listed below, would not work for your situation. Court options, however, have additional oversight and accountability, so if those are necessary to protect the individual, they may be more appropriate.
This chart outlines the differences between these alternatives and limited and general conservatorships.
|Option||Area of Assistance||Description||Oversight|
|Supported Decision-Making||All||Person retains decision-making power with the assistance of trusted individuals||No automatic oversight|
|Power of Attorney||Legal, financial||Person retains decision-making power with the assistance of trusted individuals||No automatic oversight|
|Advanced Health Care Directive||Health (including mental health)||Plan memorializing person’s health care desires or designating an alternate decisionmaker||No automatic oversight|
|Representative Payee||Financial||Person or organization to handle individual’s benefits, pay bills for them||Limited oversight|
|Special Needs Trust or CalABLE account||Financial||Placement of funds into a specialized account that can be used to purchase qualified goods and services||Limited oversight|
|Guardian ad litem||Legal||Person who manages a noncriminal court case for a person who is not able to do that for themselves||Automatic oversight|
|Limited conservatorship||Varies||A conservator makes decisions in specific areas where conservatee with a developmental disability is unable||Automatic oversight|
|General conservatorship||All||A conservator makes decisions generally, including medical, financial, etc., as outlined in the conservatorship papers||Automatic oversight|
Resources to help you compare the options
The Center for Elders and the Courts has resources that may help you understand the different options. “Finding the Right Fit” is a training that discusses supported decision-making and other legal options. This is a national resource, so you may see some terms in it not used in California. For example, the website calls a conservatorship an adult guardianship.
Other places to get support
A person with a disability or impairment or their loved ones may be entitled to support from several sources. Get more information about services at Regional Centers, Supported Living Services, and Schools.