Public Administrator / Guardian / Conservator

Due to the current shelter-in-place order, our lobby is closed to the public until further notice.

The Public Administrator Guardian Conservator Office is only providing limited services and support. Please be aware that messages left on the main line may not be returned for some time. If you know your worker's phone number, please contact them directly. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Public Guardian (Probate)

Serves adults with cognitive impairments by managing basic personal and financial needs.

Under the authority of the California Probate Code and the Superior Court, the Public Guardian provides conservatorship of persons and estates. They are established only as a last resort, as determined by the Court. The Court can appoint the Public Guardian as a conservator of the person only, estate only, or both. Generally, a Probate Conservatorship lasts for the lifetime of the adult. However, it may be terminated by the Court upon request.

Probate Conservatorships are normally created for adults who cannot make their own decisions, manage their finances, or avoid fraud/undue influence without help. Most clients suffer from dementia, traumatic brain injury, or other cognitive impairments.

Referrals are usually made through Adult Protective Services and may be made directly by a physician, hospital, skilled nursing facility, or the court.

Forms required for referral are:

For additional information contact: 408-755-7610

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The Public Guardian ensures each client's overall well-being by:

  • Assessing physical, mental, medical, and financial needs
  • Securing appropriate medical care, housing, case management, and money management services
  • Analyzing legal and financial issues, including elder financial abuse
  • Applying for Medicare, private pensions, and other benefits or income
  • Developing a comprehensive plan for both immediate and long-term care
  • Locating all assets and income
  • Managing real and personal property
  • Advocating on their behalf with government agencies, relatives, and other individuals or entities


Public Administrator

Serves the public by managing the estates of persons who die without a will or executor.

The Santa Clara County Public Administrator manages the estates of persons who die without a will or without an appropriate person to act as executor. The Public Administrator must be appointed by the Superior Court to act as executor, administrator, or trustee.

When no one is acting to handle the estate, the Public Administrator must search for a will and any heirs. If a will is found, the named executor is notified. If no will is found, then the Public Administrator will attempt to contact heirs to handle the estate. If there are no heirs, or the heirs are unable to act, the Public Administrator may handle the estate by following the California Probate Code.

Referrals to the Public Administrator are made by the coroner, mortuaries, court, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals.

The Public Administrator will determine if the case is accepted within 30 days of the referral. During this period, the Public Administrator searches for next of kin, funds for burial, and any assets that may be at risk.

The Public Administrator must present the court with a detailed accounting of all client assets, debts, and any other relevant facts. Small estates that do not require court supervision require up to 18 months for administration. The administration time for full probate varies depending on the complexity of the estate.

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The Public Administrator is responsible for:

  • Searching for family members and wills
  • Arranging for decedents burial and disposition of remains
  • Locating and managing all assets
  • Monitoring creditor claims
  • Reviewing taxes
  • Administering each estate through distribution to heirs and beneficiaries


Public Conservator (Mental Health)

Provides mental health services for Santa Clara County residents who are gravely disabled due to serious mental illness.

Mental health (or LPS) conservatorships deliver services to those who are unable to provide their own food, clothing, or shelter due to serious mental illness. These individuals have been found by the Court to be unable or unwilling to accept voluntary treatment. This legal procedure appoints a conservator to approve mental health treatment. Deputy Public Guardians provide each client with the most independent living situation available, within their abilities and resources.

LPS conservatorships may only be initiated by a psychiatrist while a patient is in an acute mental health setting.

During a temporary conservatorship (or a "T-Con"), the Office of the Public Conservator investigates the need for a general conservatorship, explores all alternatives and, if a conservatorship is needed, recommends who should be appointed. Temporary conservatorships are effective for up to six months.

A general LPS conservatorship lasts for a year or until the client no longer meets the criteria. After a year, a petition for renewal is required if the legal criteria are met.

LPS Resources:

For additional information contact: 408-755-7610

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The Office of the Public Conservator is responsible for:

  • Providing investigation reports to the Superior Court
  • Coordinating placement and case management services
  • Preparing psychosocial evaluations
  • Consenting to psychiatric medications when authorized


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