Frequently Asked Public Guardian Questions

Question 1: What is a conservatorship?

A conserA conservatorship is a Court proceeding that appoints a manager to be legally responsible for the personal and/or financial needs of an individual who is declared to lack the capacity to properly provide for those needs alone. The conservator is answerable to the Superior Court for the manner in which the conservatorship is administered.

Question 2: Who is a conservator?

A conservator is a court-appointed manager for the financial and/or personal care needs of an individual who is substantially physically or mentally incapable of meeting these needs independently. The conservator is answerable to the Superior Court for the manner in which the conservatorship is administered.

Question 3: Who may act as conservator?

The selection of the conservator is solely in the hands of the Court, which is guided by what appears to be in the best interests of the proposed conservatee, subject to statutory preference. This may be a relative, friend, any other person or entity, public or private, including the Office of the Public Guardian.

Question 4: What is the function of the Public Guardian?

The function of the Public Guardian is to act as conservator when no other alternatives to conservatorship or conservators can be found. The Public Guardian is a legally mandated function exercised according to provisions contained in the Probate Code and Welfare & Institutions Code of the State of California.

Question 5: What are the types of conservatorships?

There are two types of conservatorship available:

  1. LPS Conservatorship
  2. Probate Conservatorship

Question 6: What is an LPS conservatorship?

An LPS conservatorship is for an individual, who, as a result of a mental disorder, is "gravely disabledand is substantially unable to provide for his/her basic needs of food, clothing, or shelter. Although a family member or interested party may act as a private LPS conservator, referral for investigation of an LPS conservatorship may only be made through the Medical Director of the Santa Barbara County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Department.

Question 7: What does LPS stand for?

It is the first letter of the names of three State legislators - Lanterman, Petris and Short - who penned major mental health legislation in the late 1960's.

Question 8: What authority does an LPS conservator have?

A conservator has authority to make personal decisions for the conservatee. An LPS conservator has the authority to place a conservatee involuntarily into a state hospital or psychiatric treatment facility.

Question 9: What is a Probate conservatorship?

A Probate conservatorship is for individuals who substantially lack the "capacity" to make decisions for food, clothing, shelter or healthcare due to Dementia or a degenerative brain disorder. The discovery of need is typically made by someone close to the person, such as a family member, physician, neighbor, friend, or a hospital. The possible need for conservatorship is usually determined from observed behavioral changes, such as decline in mental and/or physical condition affecting the ability to accomplish normal day-to-day tasks. Any interested party can submit a referral to the Public Guardian for investigation of Probate conservatorship.

Question 10: What are the alternatives to LPS and Probate conservatorships?

The Public Guardian is used as a last resort. When there are no alternatives to conservatorship available Probate Code lists these preferences to be followed by the Court in selecting a conservator:

  1. the nominee of the proposed conservatee
  2. the spouse
  3. the nominee of the spouse
  4. an adult child
  5. the nominee of an adult child
  6. a parent
  7. the nominee of a parent
  8. a brother or sister
  9. the nominee of a brother or sister
  10. any qualified person or entity
  11. the Public Guardian

In cases where a relative, friend or other person or entity is willing and qualified to act as a conservator, that person (or a representative of the entity) is advised to contact a Probate attorney for information and assistance in petitioning the Court for appointment as a conservator.

Question 11: Are guardianships and conservatorships the same?

No, conservatorships apply only to adults while guardianships are strictly for minors (persons under the age of 18).

Question 12: Does the Public Guardian charge a fee?

The law allows the Public Guardian to take nominal fees every two years, based on the ability of a client to pay.