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  • Writer's pictureDuisters Law, APC

When the Court Investigator Comes-a-Knockin'. Part 1.

You filed a petition in the probate court for appointment of conservatorship over a loved-one because you want to manage their personal and/or financial affairs. The idea being, the proposed conservatee (the person who cannot manage their affairs) lacks the capacity to do so. The conservator (the person who will act on behalf of the conservatee) would then be responsible for managing those affairs to the sanctification of the court.

What most people don't know, is that the probate court employs investigators. These investigators are empowered to be the eyes and ears of the judge. Their purpose is to follow the guidelines of California Probate Code section 1826. It's not like the movies, and you likely won't see an investigator with a huge camera lens staking out a house, but here is what you can expect.

What does the investigator do? The investigator must personally interview the proposed conservatee and must interview any spouse, children, parents or other relatives within the first degree. The investigator must advise the proposed conservatee of the petition's contents and that he or she must appear in court. Most importantly, the court investigator must determine if the proposed conservatee objects to the petition, wishes to be represented by an attorney and whether or not the proposed conservatee is capable of voting (voting rights are often taken away in conservatorships).

The investigator then submits a report of his/her findings to the judge for review, five days before the hearing. The judge takes the report under advisement and consideration in whether or not the petition for conservatorship should be granted. If the court investigator's report cites concerns, the judge can address those concerns with the parties at the hearing and even deny the petition altogether.

Take away: The court investigator is a mandatory and crucial part of any conservatorship matter. If you are a filing party or a relative in a conservatorship matter, it is a good idea to cooperate with the investigator. The investigator's job is to ensure the conservatorship is the least restrictive option for the proposed conservatee, and in many cases, the court investigator is the only conduit a proposed conservatee has to voice objections.

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