Probate Court Services
Probate Court Services
Probate Court Services is a specialized unit that handles investigations related to guardianships, conservatorships.
What is a guardianship?
A guardianship is a court ordered transfer of legal responsibility to a specific adult for the physical care and protection of a minor and/or the assets of a minor.
When is a guardianship necessary?
A guardianship may be necessary when a minor's parents are no longer able or willing to provide care. A legal guardianship gives custody of the minor to a person other than a parent. The guardianship allows the guardian to provide health insurance coverage, enroll a minor in school, receive assets or benefits on behalf of the minor and provide other necessary care and protection.
How is a guardianship established?
The adult who wishes to be the legal guardian of a minor must file a petition with the Probate Clerk's Office. Click HERE for fees and filing information. The Probate Clerk’s Office is located on the 1st floor of the Central Justice Center. Probate Court Services will conduct an investigation to determine the suitability of the petitioner to have the guardianship of the minor. The report of this suitability study will be sent to the court for the judicial officer's consideration. At the court hearing, the court will make a determination as to whether or not the guardianship is necessary and if the petitioner is suitable. Probate Court Services will only conduct the investigation if the petitioner is related to the minor.
How much does it cost for a guardianship?
See the fee schedule for fees to file the petition and for the investigation. If the fees present a hardship; you may be eligible for a fee waiver. For more information, instructions and forms regarding how to seek a waiver of court fees, click here.
What if someone contests the guardianship?
If more than one person petitions the court for guardianship of a minor, each petitioner will be investigated to determine their suitability. If a parent is contesting the guardianship, the court may order Probate Court Services to conduct a full investigation of all parties. The court may also order the Social Services Agency to conduct an investigation into the appropriateness of a parent having custody of the child. Reports of these investigations are provided to the court for the judicial officer's consideration.
How long is the guardianship in effect?
The guardianship will generally remain in effect until the minor reaches the age of (18). At any time, a parent may file a petition to terminate the guardianship. The court will order an investigation at that time. The guardian and the parents may agree to mutually terminate the guardianship but the court must legally make the order for termination. The guardian may wish to terminate their responsibility for the minor but there must be an appropriate adult to take over the care and custody of the minor or they may go into protective custody. If the minor is adopted, the guardianship will terminate.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal determination by the court placing the interest of a vulnerable adult in the care and protection of another.
Who may need a conservatorship?
Any adult who lacks the capacity or is unable to take care of his or her own needs for food, shelter, or medical care or is unable to substantially manage their personal finances and is subject to undue influence may be in need of the protection of a conservatorship.
Who may be a conservator?
Conservators are usually family members or close friends. If there is no one close to the conservatee who is able to act on his or her behalf, a professional conservator or the Public Guardian may be appointed.
When the forms are completed and you are ready to file them, go to the Probate Clerk's Office on the 1st floor of the Costa Mesa Justice Complex. Click HERE for fees & filing information.
What if this is an emergency situation?
When an emergency situation exists, a Temporary Conservatorship Petition can be filed. For additional information on the temporary appointment click here.
What happens after the petition is filed?
The filing of a conservatorship petition triggers an investigation by Probate Court Services. An investigator will interview the proposed conservatee and conservator(s) and any other agencies or individuals who may be able to provide information to the court. The investigator will prepare a report for the courts consideration.
How long does the investigation take?
The investigation process will begin after you file your petition and will be completed before your hearing date.
How does the Court monitor a conservatorship?
A: Probate code 1850 states every conservatorship shall be reviewed by the court six months after the appointment, one year after the appointment and annually after that. An investigation is conducted annually for General conservatorships and every two years for Limited conservatorships. At those times, the court investigator will visit the conservatee and speak with the conservator and any other persons or agencies providing services to the conservatee. The investigator will prepare a report for the court so the court may determine if the conservatorship continues to be appropriate and in the best interest of the conservatee.
What happens if it appears the conservatee is being abused, neglected, or financially exploited?
Adult Protective Services is the agency charged with investigating allegations of abused and neglect of adults. If the alleged victim is conserved, Adult Protective Services and Probate Court Services work together to resolve problems and provide for the well-being of the victim. Orange County Adult Protective Services 24 hour hotline is (800) 451-5155. For more information regarding elder abuse click here.
The class is scheduled every Tuesday, except holidays from 3:15 to 5:00 p.m. at the Central Justice Center, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Room A-100, Santa Ana, CA 92701 in the 1st Floor Jury Assembly Room. You can choose the day you attend, but you must attend prior to your hearing. You will not be able to receive your orders or Letters of conservatorship until attendance of this class is verified. No reservations are required. The court does not validate parking.
It is required that you bring the Conservatorship Handbook with you to the class. It can be purchased for $20.00 from the Probate Clerk’s office on the first floor. You may also send a written request by mail with a self-addressed 9x12, postage paid envelope. The postage must be in the amount of $6.00 to ensure proper delivery. The book is also available online.
Please bring a copy of your petition for appointment to the class; it will be helpful when completing your attendance sheet and you will need the attorney information during the class.
Sign the attendance sheet.
You will see a movie. The purpose of the movie is to give an overview of the duties on the conservator.
Fill out the Acknowledgement of Attendance. You will receive help from the instructor, but the petition has the information needed concerning your attorney.
The instructor will review the Guidelines for Conservators with the class. You will take home the guidelines form and a change of address form.
At the end of the class, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire to be returned to the instructor.
Probate Court Services is unable to provide legal advice. We can however, provide you with information about our services. If you have questions about our services, please call (657) 622-8455.