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Home >> Specialized Senior Services >> Conservatorships >> Public Guardian

Public Guardian - Conservatorships
County of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health

320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 974-0515

bullet The Public Guardian as Conservator

The Public Guardian has been named by the Court as conservator for more than 2,500 persons who are physically or mentally disabled. These individuals cannot care for themselves without help. When such a person is brought to the attention of the Public Guardian, an investigation is made to determine whether friends or family are able and willing to act in the disabled person's best interests. If not, the Public Guardian petitions the Court to be named conservator, and the disabled person becomes the conservatee.

Under the provisions of the Probate Code, the Public Guardian may be appointed conservator to protect and care for the person and to administer the estate of those who, without assistance, cannot provide for the basic needs of food, shelter, or clothing or are unable to resist fraud or undue influence.

The Public Guardian may also be appointed for persons who, as set forth in the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act of the Welfare and Institutions Code, are considered gravely disabled (unable to provide for food, shelter, or clothing by reason of a mental disorder) and who are unwilling or unable to accept psychiatric treatment voluntarily. LPS referrals can be accepted only from designated facilities and agencies. They must be in writing and must be submitted with the signatures of two licensed psychiatric professionals, one of whom must be an M.D.

Probate referrals may be made by any individual or agency aware of the person being referred: relatives, friends, attorneys, neighbors, public or private social work or health agencies, or offices of elected officials. Up arrow to top of page

bullet Duties

As Conservator of the Person, the Public Guardian is responsible for meeting the physical and psychiatric needs of the conservatee and must arrange for adequate medical care and the proper level of treatment in the community.

As Conservator of the Estate, the Public Guardian is responsible for the prudent use of money and property belonging to the conservatee. Cost of care must be paid; basic needs of food, clothing and shelter must be met, and the conservatee must be protected against designing persons. Accountings must be filed with the Court of appointment at regular intervals.

The Public Guardian locates skilled nursing or board and care placements for conservatees and has access to results of the County Health Department's surveys of skilled nursing facilities. Up arrow to top of page

bullet LPS and Probate Conservatorships

LPS & Probate Conservatorships - Significant Differences
LPS Conservatorship Probate Conservatorship
Purpose: To provide for mental health care, which may include involuntary detention in mental health treatment facilities, for those adjudicated gravely disabled by reason of a mental disorder and to protect and administer the estate. Purpose: To protect and care for the person and to administer the estate of those who, without assistance, cannot provide for the basic needs of food, shelter, or clothing or are unable to resist fraud or undue influence.
Who is appointed? 
The Public Guardian, a relative or interested party may be appointed. However, Public Guardian investigates all such referrals and furnishes recommendations to the Court.
Who is appointed? 
The Public Guardian is normally appointed on petitions which it files. Probate conservatorship petitions may also be filed by private individuals or by agencies.
Typical Client: Middle-aged or younger person, usually psychotic and usually in hospital -- often having little property or income. Typical Client: Elderly person whose mental and physical problems stem primarily from age. This person often lives alone and sometimes has a substantial estate.
Duration: Automatically terminates after one year but may be renewed at a court hearing. Duration: Indefinite; conservatee or conservator may petition the Court for termination at any time.

Up arrow to top of page

bullet Guardian Circle - Volunteers

The Public Guardian's almost 2,500 conservatees are isolated by their disabilities. Their need for social contact and mental stimulation is met in part by Guardian Circle Volunteers, who share their skills, listen to the lonely, and encourage participation in community activities.

For additional information, please contact Lee Stone, Volunteer Coordinator, at (213) 974-0529.

Guardian Circle is supported by tax deductible donations, which are used for subscriptions for large-print periodicals for those with poor sight, useful and attractive holiday gifts, attendance at community events, and personal needs funds for those who have nothing. Up arrow to top of page


Inside This Page

bullet The Public Guardian
  can be appointed by the
  Court as conservator
Duties of the Public
Differences between LPS
  and Probate
  Conservatorships - Chart
Guardian Circle
  Volunteers are needed

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bullet Los Angeles County
  Department of Mental
  Health Website

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This site was first published in April, 2001.

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