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In Solano County, the Public Guardian office serves vulnerable community members in partnership with our judicial system, behavioral health, health care providers and the community. We also serve persons who die without known family members to make final arrangements and settle estates. We have Deputy Public Guardian/Conservator/Administrators who fulfill all three services areas as noted below. The office provides mandated conservatorship and estate administration services, as well as personal case management and financial services to individuals who are not capable of managing their own affairs.
There are three core services areas in the Public Guardian Office. Public Guardian/Conservators provide a vital service to persons who are unable to properly care for themselves or who are unable to manage their finances through a legal process know as conservatorship. The Public Guardian is the court appointed substitute decision maker for vulnerable populations of the county, such as the frail elderly and persons with serious mental illness. They provide case management for these clients, ensuring they receive the necessary care and treatment for their well-being. Public Administrators assist with the remains and disposal of property of persons who die without known family member or other appropriate party to assist in burial and final matters.
There are two common types of conservatorship that the Deputy Public Guardian/Conservator supports as the conservator of a person and/or estate of individuals needing protective intervention. The two types of conservatorship, Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) and probate, can only be established by order of the Solano County Superior Court. Referrals for Probate conservatorships begin with an Adult Protective Services investigation as a result of abuse or neglect. As probate conservator, Public Guardians are involved in all aspects of their clients' lives performing case management for finances, housing, medical care, placement, and advocacy and other matters. Referrals for probate conservatorship usually come from another community agency, institution, or physician. Guardianship cases are court-ordered for the oversight of children with an estate to protect.
The Public Administrator is responsible for administering the estate of a Solano County resident who dies without provisions for someone to handle their estate. Estate administration may include marshaling all assets, selling real or personal property, performing heir searches, and overseeing the distribution of the estate. The activities are supervised by the Solano County Superior Court.
For more information about conservatorship or to become a conservator for a family or friend please visit: https://solano.courts.ca.gov/divisions/probate-conservatorship-guardianship/conservatorship-cases/
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does a Conservator do?
- In general, a Conservator of the Person is responsible for the arrangement of Conservatee’s (person who is conserved) necessary care, treatment and basic daily needs. Under court supervision, the Conservator will make decisions for the Conservatee while conserved. A Conservator of the Estate manages the income and finances of the Conservatee, protects the assets and establishes a budget within the resources of the estate. The Conservator will also apply for and maintain the Conservatee’s eligibility for benefits/entitlements.
- Why is my family member being conserved?
- There are concerns that your family member (our client) posed a danger to self or others and/or could not obtain food, clothing and/or shelter meaning gravely disabled) due to a mental illness. For LPS , it is possible a legal hold was approved and your family member was brought to a licensed facility (psychiatric hospital or crisis center) for psychiatric evaluation.
- What can I expect at court?
- During the initial phase, the court will acknowledge the case and assign a lawyer – usually the Public Defender to defend the person. A Temporary Conservatorship is usually granted allowing a full hearing date to be calendared. At the next hearing date, a decision about a longer-term conservatorship will be made. LPS conservatorships are usually for a year and may be renewed. Probate conservatorships are usually permanent.
- What are my (client) rights?
- You and/or your family should talk to your lawyer about next steps. You may be able to request a trial. The Public Guardian’s office will be granted the initial authority to keep you (our client) in a facility up to at least 30 days while you receive treatment. During this time, the Conservatorship Investigator will recommend to the court if a full conservatorship which lasts for 1 year is necessary.
- What is mental illness and can my family member get better?
- Thought disorders and/or emotional disorders. If given the appropriate medications and the person participates in the treatment program, many of our clients get better and are then taken off of conservatorship
- What are family member rights after a family member is conserved?
- If your family member was appointed as your conservator, they will decide where you live (possibly in a locked facility), type of treatment, medical treatment and contracts you enter into. You should talk to your lawyer for details. If your family member is not the conservator, they can contact the Public Guardian and possibly visit.
- How can I help my family member during the pre, during and post conservatorship process?
- You can be supportive of your member during the process. Give an accurate history of who your family member was before becoming ill which can guide treatment goals. The goal of LPS conservatorship is to provide court ordered (involuntary) mental health treatment so that the person may be healthy again.
- Can I call the conservator/guardian to discuss my family members’ care or case?
- Yes, Conservators value healthy family input but the Conservator works in partnership with treatment teams to make decisions in the best interest of the client.
- Who can I talk to if I have more questions or need support?
- Client’s Mental Health Case Manager
National Alliance on Mental Health
- (800) 950-6264
- Napa/Solano Area Agency on Aging
- (707) 784-8960
- Disability Rights California
- (707) 254-7800