Elder Law & Conservatorships

Protecting The Rights Of Vulnerable Seniors Citizens

Laughlin Legal attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Elder law is a relatively new field that, rather than focusing on a particular subject, focuses instead on a type of client: seniors. We are sensitive to the special needs of our elderly clients and take the time to listen carefully and to make sure that you understand all of your options. We handle a wide range of legal matters for seniors and their families, including:

  • Estate planning with a special focus on planning for the possibility of long-term care with irrevocable trusts
  • Qualification for benefits, including Medi-Cal to pay for skilled nursing facilities, and VA benefits to pay for in-home care or assisted living
  • Gifting strategies to qualify for Medi-Cal
  • Incapacity planning through the preparation of an Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advising adult children of an incapacitated parent
  • Mediation: We help resolve disputes between family members regarding the care of an elderly loved one, as well as disputes with assisted living and skilled nursing facilities
  • Review of current estate plan
  • Conservatorships: When an incapacitated person does not have a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive authorizing someone to make decisions for them, it is sometimes necessary to go to court to establish a conservatorship. We can help you through this complicated process.


A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.

There are various types of conservatorships depending on the needs of the conservatee:

1. Probate Conservatorships

These conservatorships are based on the laws in the California Probate Code. They are the most common type of conservatorship. Probate conservatorships can be:

  • General Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. These conservatees are often elderly people, but can also be younger people who have been seriously impaired, like in a car accident, for example.
  • Limited Conservatorships — conservatorships of adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves or their finances. Conservatees in limited conservatorships do not need the higher level of care or help that conservatees in general conservatorships need.

When a conservatorship is needed right away, the court may appoint a temporary conservator until a general conservator can be appointed. The request must be filed as part of a general conservatorship case, and can be filed either at the same time or soon after the general conservatorship case is opened with the court. The main duties of a temporary conservator are arranging for the temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee, and protecting the conservatee’s finances and property.

2. Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships

LPS conservatorships are used to care for adults with serious mental health illnesses who need special care. These conservatorships are used for people who usually need very restrictive living arrangements (like living in locked facilities) and require extensive mental health treatment (like very powerful medication to control symptoms). Conservatees in LPS conservatorships cannot or will not agree to the special living arrangements or treatment on their own. LPS conservatorships must be started by a local government agency. If you believe that this is the type of help the adult needs, we can assist you in working with local county agencies.

Get A Personal Consultation

Through our personalized solutions and experience in court, we find the best answers to all of our clients’ needs. When you schedule an appointment with our firm, you will speak one-on-one with a lawyer.

Call 650-389-9133 or email us to set up a consultation. Our office is in Foster City, and we work throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda, and Sacramento counties.

We speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Polish and Spanish.