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Dear John

Subject: Assistance with family matter

Hi John,

My family is in need of an attorney who specializes in elder law. This in relating to my 90 year old gravely ill aunt who has never married and has no children. She also does not have a will. We are hoping to find an attorney attain conservatorship and then pay the legal fees. Do you have any recommendations?



As all lawyers say …“it depends”…It depends if there is property, bank accounts, IRAs, then an any trust and will Attorney is good…If the person has “capacity”.. It should cost between $1200. -$2000.00 , unless it is very complex.

If “No capacity”, meaning the person has no ability to fully understand, consent, and sign. Conservatorships are more complex, but do-able.

Conservatorships are a lot of work… the person wanting the conservator has to pay all fees and cannot use any of the conservatees funds…There is a weekly Conservatorship Clinic given by Bet Tzedek in Los Angeles at different courthouses… …There are Conservatorship Attnys, but are pricey…and take a long time…

This is from the Bet Tzedek website: < www.bettzedek.org/ >
At our Self-Help Clinic, Bet Tzedek’s staff and volunteers can help you:

Obtain general information about probate conservatorships, alternatives to conservatorships, and the court process;
Obtain referrals for social services or legal assistance;
File for probate conservatorships of the person to care for the physical needs of a person with a disability;
File for probate conservatorship of a small estate to help manage the limited finances and property of a person with a disability;
Make sure the simple pleadings or declarations you write are in the proper format; and
Request to be appointed as a Temporary Probate Conservator in limited emergency circumstances.

Clinic services are provided using an easy-to-use computer-based program developed by the California Judicial Council. Self-represented individuals can complete basic petition documents using this program with or without assistance from Clinic volunteers.


John Danner, LCSW, is clinical core social worker at the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center. He can be reached at (323) 442-5775 or by email at jdanner@med.usc.edu.