The Office of the Public Guardian ensures the physical and financial safety of persons unable to do so on their own and manages probate and mental health (Lanterman-Petris-Short, known as LPS) conservatorships for Siskiyou County residents when there are no viable alternatives to a public conservatorship. The Office of the Public Guardian conducts the official County investigation into conservatorship matters. A thorough investigation is conducted to determine the need for conservatorship and evaluate all appropriate less-restrictive options. The Superior Court determines if a conservatorship should be established and appoints the conservator.
A Probate conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a court-appointed adult oversees the financial matters and/or personal care of another adult who has been determined by the court to be incapable of managing alone. Probate Conservatorships are primarily established for frail elderly adults who are unable to provide for their own personal needs for physical health, food, clothing and/or shelter or cannot manage their own finances or resist undue influence. Probate conservatorships are also used for adults with severe physical limitations and/or severe cognitive impairment. Probate conservatorships remain in effect until the conservatee can show that he/she is capable of handling his/her own affairs appropriately and is reviewed, in most cases, annually by a Court Investigator.
The Public Guardian may be appointed conservator of the person (for managing personal care and placement) or the estate (for managing financial matters) or both. Additional powers may be granted for medical decision-making, dementia medications and dementia placement.
Referrals are usually made to the Public Guardian through Adult Protective Services. Criteria for referral to the Public Guardian include verifiable mental incapacity and/or an imminent threat to the person’s health and safety or estate.
The Public Guardian works in partnership with the Behavioral Health Division and Mental Health Director for all LPS conservatorships. LPS conservatorships are established to provide individualized treatment, supervision, and living arrangements for people who are “gravely disabled” as a result of mental illness and/or impairment by chronic alcoholism. An LPS conservatorship is used only when a person needs mental health treatment but lack capacity to give informed consent. In an LPS conservatorship, the conservator has the authority to place a conservatee in a psychiatric treatment facility. LPS conservatorships may be renewed on an annual basis, if the court deems it appropriate.
Referrals for LPS conservatorship must come from the Siskiyou County Mental Health Director or from a psychiatrist who is affiliated with a Short-Doyle hospital.