Senate approves Wieckowski bill to provide more oversight to ensure conservatees' homes are not sold prematurely

September 3, 2019

SACRAMENTO – The state Senate overwhelmingly passed SB 303, a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) that strengthens protection of a conservatee’s government benefits from being used to cover a conservator’s fees and also provides greater oversight of the removal of a conservatee from her residence and the sale of her home.  The bill now goes to Governor Newsom for his consideration.

“SB 303 increases the security for two of a conservatee’s essential assets – her benefits and her residence,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “It does this by clarifying the law surrounding protection of a conservatee’s government benefits and raising the standard by requiring a showing of clear and convincing evidence to the court of the need and benefit of selling her home.  The sale of a home may be necessary in certain cases, but we must be sure that it’s strictly in the best interest of the conservatee.  Prematurely removing someone from her home, and selling the home, can have a devastating impact on the health, well-being and finances of the conservatee.”

A conservatorship occurs when a judge appoints a person or entity to manage the financial matters and personal care of an individual who is no longer able to manage his own affairs.  Current law authorizes a conservator to sell a conservatee’s residence if specific information about the sale and communication with conservatee is given to the court. The presumption is the personal residence is the least restrictive appropriate residence.  If removal of the conservatee from the residence is appropriate, the presumption may be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence.

“Senate Bill 303 seeks to protect federal benefits and the conservatee’s personal residence for the benefit of the conservatee,” said Linda Kincaid of the Coalition for Elder and Disability Rights (CEDAR), one of the bill’s supporters.  “It will curb unfettered enrichment of conservators and attorneys, allowing more seniors and dependent adults to remain in their homes and in the care of their loved ones.”

In addition to CEDAR, SB 303 is supported by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Disability Rights California and the National Association of Social Workers.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.