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When is it OK to strip people of their rights to protect their welfare? Can we trust the legal system to protect against abuse? The year-old pop star gave explosive testimony at a June hearing in a Los Angeles probate court, saying her conservators have kept her from removing a birth control device, forced her to take medications and required her to continue performing. Meanwhile, a bill inspired by the Spears case that requires increased transparency and stricter ability continues to move through the Legislature.
These seemingly incongruous conservator situations in California have generated a lot of confusion. Is it too easy to put people on conservatorships — or too difficult? People on all sides of the conversation agree change is overdue. But their visions of what the problem is — and where the solutions lie — often vary. These include everything from the rights to make medical and financial decisions, to control of basic life choices, like where to live and whether to have sex or marry.
SinceBritney Spears has been on a probate conservatorship. These are primarily deed for individuals who have intellectual disabilities or dementia.
They are granted indefinitely by a county probate judge, though the conservatee can petition to end it. A subset of probate conservatorships are known as limited conservatorships, which are reduced in scope and reserved for adults with developmental disabilities. These conservatorships, which are also decided by county judges, must be renewed annually. Nicholas Petris and Alan Short, that established strict criteria for involuntary treatment.
Both types of conservatorships can involve public guardians, private professionals or family members. According to the state Department of Health Care Services, data self-reported from counties showed that 1, people were on temporary Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorships inand 3, were on permanent conservatorships. His legislation also includes provisions to preempt conflicts of interest — preventing courts from allowing conservators to pay companies in which they have a financial stake. Democratic Sens. House Republicans called for a hearing on the issue in the spring, and U.
And once the decision is made, there is no annual expiration and renewal process for the arrangement. She also wants the law to outline less restrictive options that must be attempted prior to conservatorship, including a process called supportive decision making. Critics of the probate system, in particular, have long warned of abuse. Inthe Los Angeles Times published an investigation highlighting widespread abuses within the conservatorship system.
In response, the Legislature passed a series of revisions in But many of the promised changes and increased oversight were never funded due to the economic recession, Assemblymember Low said. Most experts agree it is more difficult to get someone onto a Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship, in part because those can curtail rights more severely — often involving locked placements and use of involuntary psychotropic medication.
Because of this, many family members who are trying to get loved ones with serious mental illness onto such conservatorships want to see standards loosened.
Teresa Pasquiniwhose adult son Danny has been under a Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship for 20 years, said she watched him suffer through arrests and homelessness and violence for years, and worried he would eventually die.
She fought for the conservatorship that she says has allowed him to stabilize and get the care he needs. But he, like some disability rights advocates, thinks her case points to problems within the system. Many people who work within the conservatorship systems argue that the process works—it just lacks resources. House said she thinks the public should worry less about the mechanics of the process, and more about budget cuts.
A shortage of funding for conservators is also a problem, she said. For three years in a row, Hughes said, her organization has asked the state for money to address that issue without success.
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