California law (Probate Code and Welfare and Institutions Code) provide that a conservator may be appointed to provide for the financial and/or personal care and treatment needs of an individual "conservatee" who is physically or mentally unable to do so for themselves. 

Probate Conservatorships

The conservatorship is established for adults, most often older people and cognitively impaired individuals. The probate court can appoint a conservator for the person and/or estate or both depending on the needs of the conservative. 

Additional powers may be sought for medical decision-making and dementia authority. A probate conservatorship is administered in accordance with the California Government Code, California Probate Code, and Local Rules Court.

Lanterman Petris Short (LPS) Conservatorships

A mental health conservatorship makes a court-appointed conservator legally responsible for overseeing the comprehensive medical treatment of an adult (conservatee) who has a serious mental illness. The conservatee must be gravely disabled and have a serious mental health illness with no other suitable alternatives to help them in the recovery of their impairment. 

The purpose of an LPS conservatorship is to provide for the individualized treatment, supervision, and placement of the conservatee and to manage their financial resources. 

Conservatorship Referral Process


Anyone can initiate a referral to the Public Guardians office. Referrals are appropriate when individuals are unable to manage money or health care decisions and have no legal arrangement in place and/or no other interested person willing and able to act. 


Referrals are made by the Director of Behavioral Health at the recommendation of a Medical Director for adults who are in an acute psychiatric hospital on an involuntary hold. Must meet "grave disability" criteria. 

Conservatorship of the Person

Duties include arranging for the conservatee's living arrangements, health care, protection, food, clothing, personal care, transportation, and recreation. 

Conservatorship of the Estate

Duties include managing the conservatee's finances, locating and taking control of assets, collecting income, making a budget, paying bills, investing money, and protecting and managing assets.