The Public Guardian is a county official established pursuant to state law. The Public Guardian in Orange County oversees the investigation and administration of conservatorships established for individuals who suffer from a mental disorder and will not accept mental health treatment on a voluntary basis. In addition the Public Guardian conducts investigations and may petition the court for authority to act as the conservator over an individual who is physically unable to care for themselves and manage their own finances.
During the course of the investigation, the assigned Deputy Public Guardian will determine if an individual’s condition or behavior meets the legal criteria for a conservatorship. If so, relatives are interviewed to determine willingness and ability to act as the court-appointed conservator. If there is no one able or willing to take on fiduciary responsibilities the investigating Deputy Public Guardian will recommend the appointment of the Public Guardian.
The Public Guardian is a fiduciary with duties and responsibilities for any individual placed under her care. A personal conservator is responsible for ensuring the physical needs for food, clothing and shelter are provided in the least restrictive setting. The person placed under a conservatorship retains the ability to consent for medical decisions, unless the court determines the individual lacks capacity to make informed medical decisions. An estate conservator is responsible for managing all aspects of an individual’s real and personal property.