On September 30, California Governor Newsom signed AB 1663 into law, helping disabled and older individuals needing support to lead self-determined lives.
A Groundbreaking Civil Rights Bill
for People with Disabilities
California Assembly Bill 1663
The Probate Conservatorship Reform and Supported Decision-Making Act
Authored by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein
Sponsored by leading disability justice, human rights, legal, and aging organizations
AB 1663 makes sure Californians with disabilities and older Californians will be:
- Supported to make their own decisions to the best of their abilities
- Protected from exploitation by a circle of people they trust
- Shielded from the potential risks of the court conservatorship process
WHY AB 1663 IS NEEDED
The Problem with Conservatorships
Conservatorships present the contradiction of taking away someone’s civil rights in order to “protect” them.
The Britney Spears conservatorship case exposed deep flaws within California’s probate conservatorship system. Britney Spears’ experience demonstrates how easily people can become trapped in conservatorship cases and how difficult it is to escape. People with disabilities and older adults are often caught in an outdated system that can strip them of basic civil rights and their ability to advocate for themselves. Many of them don’t have the support system Britney did. Currently, California’s probate conservatorship system has little meaningful oversight and many opportunities for abuse.
Only people with disabilities, or people perceived to have disabilities, are placed under conservatorships.
Many people get into conservatorships without knowing that there are other, less restrictive ways to be supported and protected. In fact, there are numerous alternatives to conservatorship that are safer and more effectively protect people – without the courts!
Conservatorship should be used as the very last resort and limited to extreme circumstances. California law already requires this, but too often conservatorship is the default.
Conservatorship is a disability and human rights issue
Supported decision-making helps people make choices based on their unique abilities and interests
WHY AB 1663 IS AN IMPORTANT STEP
Access to Alternatives
AB 1663 provides for important ways people with disabilities can maintain their rights while still getting help to make important decisions. AB 1663:
Deflects – Closes the pipeline to conservatorships by recognizing Supported Decision-Making
Diverts – Makes conservatorship a last resort
Dissolves – Makes it easier to end conservatorships when appropriate
Decides – Ensures people under conservatorships still have choices
Supported Decision-Making: A Better Way
Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is one way for people to make their own choices without losing their rights.
With SDM, people with disabilities choose individuals they trust to help them understand, make, and communicate their own choices. They use support in order to direct their own lives, just like people without disabilities do all the time.
Supported Decision-Making is used around the country and around the world.
16 states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws recognizing Supported Decision-Making.
Many nations, including Canada, Peru, Israel, Sweden, and Australia use SDM instead of conservatorship.
Supported Decision-Making in Action
Gabby directs her own life using Supported Decision-Making. Watch her story above.