A daughter who successfully obtained a temporary conservatorship over the person of her elderly father was entitled to recover her costs and legal fees, even though the convervatorship was not made permanent, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled.
Div. Four on Tuesday said the compensation and reimbursement of expenses to Bobbie McDonald, paid by the estate of her father, Bobby Cornelius, was proper.
McDonald had petitioned for temporary and permanent conservatorships over Cornelius, a 73-year old widower, last July.
She asserted that her father was of a compromised physical mental and physical state, rendering him susceptible to fraud by persons who had moved into his home and were operating a marijuana farm on the premises. Declarations from several family members also attested to this.
A court investigator was appointed to evaluate whether a temporary conservatorship was appropriate, and concluded that Cornelius was “urgently in need of medical and medication supervision and proper nutrition, and is at high risk of undue influence from what appear to be virtual strangers that he has allowed to live in his home.”
After reviewing the report and holding a hearing attended by Cornelius’ attorney, Sonoma Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil found that a temporary conservatorship was in Cornelius’ best interest. McDonald was appointed the temporary conservator, but she was subsequently replaced, at her request, by a professional fiduciary.
Cornelius filed an objection to the appointment of a conservator and a declaration stating his disagreement with his family members’ declarations. He also demanded a jury trial, which was set for last December.
For reasons which did not appear on the record, McDonald dismissed her petition for conservatorship before the trial began. In February she sought and received an award of $34,000 for the compensation and reimbursement of expenses to the temporary conservator, attorneys, and care providers.
Cornelius challenged this award on appeal, contending no such compensation is authorized under the Probate Code unless a permanent conservator appointed.
Sepulveda noted there was “substantial, indeed overwhelming, evidence that conservatee Cornelius was benefitted by the temporary conservatorship,” which supported the trial court’s finding that the temporary conservatorship was established in good faith and in the best interests of the conservatee.
The case is Conservatorship of Cornelius, 11 S.O.S. 6150.
Full Article and Source:
C.A.: Legal Fees May Be Awarded for Temporary Conservatorships