The Public Guardian-Conservator-Administrator provides mandated conservatorship and estate administration services as specified by the Probate Code and Welfare and Institution’s Code. The organization of these services varies among counties. The Public Guardian, Public Conservator, and/or Public Administrator is personally responsible for these functions, which are delegated within the department.
The services of the Public Guardian may be provided through a separate county department, an elected official, or incorporated into a larger department such as health or human services. Public Conservator services are oftentimes provided by the Public Guardian, but the responsibilities may be shared with mental health departments. The Public Administrator may be an elected official, a separate department, or housed within another county department such as sheriff-coroner, treasurer, or public guardian-conservator.
The Public Guardian-Conservator serves as conservator of a person and/or estate of individuals needing protective intervention. The two types of conservatorship, Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) and probate, can only be established by order of the superior court. As probate conservator, Public Guardians are involved in all aspects of their clients’ lives, including financial management, housing, medical care, placement, and advocacy. As LPS conservator, Public Conservators are responsible for directing the mental health treatment and placement of their clients. Referrals for probate conservatorship usually come from another community agency, institution, or physician. Referrals for LPS conservatorship can only come from a psychiatrist who is affiliated with a Short-Doyle hospital.
The Public Administrator is responsible for administering the estate of a county resident who dies without a will or family in California. Estate administration may include marshaling all assets, selling real or personal property, performing heir searches, and overseeing the distribution of the estate. The activities are supervised by the superior court. The Public Administrator may also supervise the county’s indigent burial program.