Public Guardian - Conservatorships
County of Los Angeles Department of Mental Health
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 974-0515
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
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.
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.
LPS and Probate Conservatorships
& Probate Conservatorships - Significant Differences
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.
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
The Public Guardian, a relative or interested party may be
appointed. However, Public Guardian investigates all such referrals
and furnishes recommendations to the Court.
The Public Guardian is normally appointed on petitions which it
files. Probate conservatorship petitions may also be filed by
private individuals or by agencies.
Client: Middle-aged or younger person, usually psychotic and
usually in hospital -- often having little property or income.
Client: Elderly person whose mental and physical problems stem
primarily from age. This person often lives alone and sometimes has
a substantial estate.
Automatically terminates after one year but may be renewed at a
Indefinite; conservatee or conservator may petition the Court for
termination at any time.
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.