Public Administrator / Guardian / Conservator

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 their personal and financial needs.

Under the authority of the California Probate Code and the Superior Court, the Public Guardian conducts official investigations into conservatorship matters, and serves as the legally appointed conservator for persons, who have been determined by the Court to be incapable of caring for themselves. These are generally older, frail, and vulnerable adults who are at risk or have been a victim of abuse, neglect, or undue influence.

When appointed conservator, the Public Guardian manages the conservatorship of the person and/or estate. Public conservatorships 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 does not expire. However, it may be terminated by the Court upon request.

When appointed conservator of the person, the Public Guardian is responsible for making sure the conservatee has proper food, clothing shelter and health care. Depending on the conservatee’s ability to understand and make decision, the Public Guardian may receive authority from the Court to make medical decisions for the conservatee.

When appointed conservator of the estate, the Public Guardian manages the finances of the conservatee who has been found by the Court to be unable to manage them alone or is susceptible to undue influence. The Public Guardian often takes control of the conservatee’s assets. Collects income, pays debts and taxes, and oversees investment funds.

Probate Conservatorships are generally 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:

Other Probate resources:

Self-help for Probate Conservatorships

Contact the Self Help center

Guardianship & Supported Decision Making Explained - YouTube

Alternatives to Guardianship | Conservator | American College of Trust and Estate Counsel - YouTube

These videos’ practical principles are broadly applicable, the videos and the organization that made them are grounded in Minnesota law, which is not applicable in California. However, Minnesota and California law may be very similar on guardianship and the ideas presented in the videos can be implemented in any setting.


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


Public Administrator

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

The Santa Clara County Public Administrator is charged with investigating and administering the estates of persons who die with no 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 administer 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 manage the estate. If there are no heirs, or the heirs are unable to act, the Public Administrator may administer 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 to administer assets. Small estates that do not require court supervision require up to 18 months for administration. The administration time for full probate cases varies depending on the complexity of the estate.

Public Administrator Referral Worksheet


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The Public Administrator is responsible for:

  • Searching for family members and wills
  • Conducting thorough investigations to discover all of the decedent’s assets
  • Arranging for decedents burial and disposition of remains
  • Locating and managing all assets
  • Protecting the decedent’s property from waste, loss or theft
  • Monitoring creditor claims
  • Paying the decedent’s bills and taxes
  • Administering each estate through distribution to heirs and beneficiaries


Public Conservator (LPS/Mental Health)

An LPS (Lanterman, Petris & Short) Conservatorship is for Santa Clara County residents who, because of their mental illness, have been deemed to be “gravely disabled” and thusly unable to provide for their own basic needs.

An LPS conservatorship can only be initiated by a psychiatrist (from an acute inpatient-locked unit) and then only after that individual has been hospitalized for 14+ days.

Under the authority of the CA Welfare and Institution Code 5350-5372, the Public Administrator Guardian Conservator (PAGC) is the designated investigator for LPS Conservatorships.

During an LPS temporary conservatorship investigation, which can last up to six months, the PAGC oversees an individual’s general welfare which includes making sure they have proper food, clothing, and shelter as well as their ongoing psychiatric treatment and placement.

Every individual placed under a Temporary LPS conservatorship is assigned a Deputy Public Guardian Conservator to oversee their case to ensure they are in the least restrictive and most appropriate clinical setting. Their assigned Deputy Public Guardian Conservator can also assist with discharge planning and linkage to services as well as applications for public benefits and marshaling of assets, when needed.

Generally, if an individual on a Temporary LPS conservatorship is discharged to the community, the LPS conservatorship would be concurrently dismissed. Conversely, if they are placed in long-term locked psychiatric care, a Permanent/one-year LPS conservatorship would likely be sought.

It is the PAGC’s mandate to explore and look at all possibilities towards avoiding a LPS conservatorship.

If a Permanent/one-year LPS conservatorship is needed, the PAGC then recommends who ought to be appointed. After a year, the LPS conservatorship can be renewed, provided two doctors deem it necessary.

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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