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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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My father is mentally detereriating- has dementia- has been

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My father is mentally detereriating- has dementia- has been picked up by police a couple of times. He is in a 72-hour mental evaluation place-his social worker sais he is past power of attorney and since I am the only living relative he has that I should apply for conservatorship. He has no will and no one looking after him. He is open to me helping him, but It seems to cost thousands t0 retain a lawyer. He has plenty of money for this but doesn't like parting with his money easily and is in denial of needing very much help. Are there any attorneys wh woul wave a retainer and wait out the months for the case to go through? I don't have thousands to pay. He is in Kern County, CA But I am in WA state.Allison
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

I am sorry to hear about your situation. I would not just take the social worker's word for it that your father is incompetent. Incompetency is actually a complex legal determination that is made after extensive evaluation of many experts.

With that said, would your father be compliant, accept your help and give you a power of attorney?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It's not just the social worker, It's also his step-neice, his neighbor and the care worker he recently fired (hires and fires frequently) She was visiting him 2 hours a day at 15 $/hour but he thought this was "robbing" him. My father and I have not been in contact for 25 years-and I never grew up with him- also he molested me when i was visiting him when I was only 12 years old. His wife of 30 years recently died-he was care-giving to her many years. He is now all alone and very sad, had lost much weight untill neibor found this care giver to help out and 2 doctors say he has dementia and put him on meds-he was doing better, but after firing caregiver he hasn't taken them (they were helping a little) He was very happy to hear from me and I told him I forgive him some years ago. You can tell even on the phone he cant remember words and names and get confused. I asked If He would trust me to help with things he said yes- agreed to pay 1/2 plane fare.



These situations are always very difficult. I am sorry to hear about even more that you are going through. The reason I asked the question is that Conservatorships should be the last option. The Conservatorships will remove all your father's legal rights and his Conservator will take over full control over him. The Conservator has the right to decide where he lives, where he gets medical care and is in full control of his finances.

With all that said, the initial petition is done by you filing to have him adjudicated incompetent. Since the initial proceeding is you against him the attorney must be hired and paid by you, not him.

You have several options other than hiring a private attorney.

You could check with the social worker to see if adult protective services in his area will file the conservatorship petition and request that you be appointed his conservator since you do not have the funds to hire an attorney.

You can take steps to file this on your own however, it is very hard to do so far away. There is a great self help website for California here if you want to try on your own.

Finally, you could also check to see if you would qualify for California legal aid to help you file the conservatorship petition. Here is a link to California legal aid.

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

To apply to CA for legal aid, wouldn't I have to live there?

No, you can get legal assistance for a CA case even as a non resident. They are nonprofits that help anyone that meets financial criteria. Since your father is in CA that would give you qualification.

You can pay the lawyer with his funds for assistance after you have been appointed conservator.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX first 2 links you gave me won't work. Otherwise I would be satisfied-maybe I can do some digging on my own and key them in to see if they still exist. Are you sure there aren't any lawyers who would take a case like this on "contigency" is that the right word?

You are correct to ask for contingency. However, since the initial filing is opposed to your father, that initial case must be paid for by you. A contingency fee is usually taken if there is a possibility of future compensation. In this instance you do not have any possibility of future compensation. You can only be modestly paid for your work as a Conservator.

I am sorry if the links are not working. I just accessed them. Let me try and repost them to see if they work.

You should also check with an elder law attorney in his area to see what payment options are available. Some may offer deferred payment options. You can find an elder law attorney at
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