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Public Guardian

General information

The Public Guardian/Public Conservatorship program serves frail elderly adults and adults with physical or mental disabilities which result in their being unable to provide for their needs for health care, food, clothing or shelter and/or unable to manage their own finances or resist fraud or undue influence. The Superior Court makes the decision to provide conservatorship for such adults.

Probate Conservatorship

These conservatorships are primarily established for adults who cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances. Probate conservatorships are often used for older adults with severe limitations and for younger people who have serious cognitive impairments.

LPS Conservatorship

This type of conservatorship is named for the three Assemblymen who sponsored the original bill – Lanterman, Petris and Short. LPS conservatorships are established to arrange mental health treatment and placement for people who are unable to provide for their food, clothing, shelter, and treatment needs, as a result of a mental disorder.

Establishing a Conservatorship

Referrals for the two types of conservatorships come through different parts of the healthcare system. If a person needs LPS conservatorship, the treating psychiatrist makes a referral to an investigator in Mental Health Services. If a person needs Probate conservatorship, the referral comes through Aging and Adult Services and the Centralized Intake unit which assigns a deputy public guardian to investigate the need for conservatorship. The investigator presents a petition to the Court recommending the nature of the conservatorship to be established and recommending who should be the conservator. Family members have priority to be named conservator, but if none is willing or appropriate, the Public Guardian is appointed as conservator.

Role of the Public Guardian

The deputy public guardian assigned to the individual arranges for health care, housing, meals, transportation, personal care and recreation. In addition, the deputy public guardian gathers all assets, applies for income, and collects all bills, making decisions on which bills can be paid. The deputy public guardian is responsible to the Superior Court for all actions taken on behalf of the conservatee.