Mental Health Services

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The Office of the Public Guardian, Public Conservator

Smiling adult couple holding hands Welcome to the website for the San Joaquin County Public Guardian/Conservatorís Office. Our office is responsible for the care, supervision and financial management of those residents of the County who are severely disabled, and unable to manage their own affairs and make appropriate decisions for themselves. These individuals have either a mental illness or are cognitively impaired. For a variety of reasons, family members are unable to assist them. The Public Guardian/Conservator conducts the official County investigation into Conservatorship matters and acts as the legally appointed Guardian or Conservator for persons who meet the legal criteria.

Contact Us

Phone: (209) 468-3740
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 201063
                         Stockton, CA 95201

Physical Address: 1212 N. California Street
                            Stockton, CA 95202















About Us

Program: The Office of the Public Guardian, Public Conservator
1212 North California St.
Stockton, CA 95202
Description: The Public Guardian/Conservator's Office, with approximately 32 staff members, operate the following three primary programs:
  • Conservatorship Services for both Lanterman-Petris-Short Mental Health (LPS) and Probate Conservatorships, and
  • Guardianship Services for minors with significant estate assets.
  • Representative Payee Services for San Joaquin County Mental Health clients who are unable to manage their financial resources and who are served by Mental Health Case Management. The appointing authority is the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration and other such funding entities.

    Note: The powers, authorities, and responsibilities associated with Conservatorship cases are much greater than those for the Representative Payee cases.
Contact: (209) 468-9370 Telephone Number
(888) 468-9370 Toll free outside of Stockton
(209) 468-9377 Fax Number

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Mission Statements

Public Guardian/Conservator: The mission of the Public Guardian is to safeguard the property of Guardianship cases. The mission of the Public Conservator is to safeguard the lives and property of Conservatees who cannot care for themselves with the least possible restriction of their personal liberties.
Representative Payee: The mission of the Representative Payee function of the Public Guardian/Conservatorís Office is to manage the benefits and financial resources of disabled persons in a fiscally responsible and prudent manner.

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Conservatorship Services

Description: There are basically two types of Conservatorships: Probate and LPS. For each type, a conservator can be appointed for the person, for the estate, or for both. The main responsibility of the Conservator is to provide each Conservatee with the best and most independent living environment possible, within their abilities and resources. The conservator assures that all personal care, medical care and services needed to maintain a safe and comfortable living environment are provided. In addition, the Conservator protects, preserves and manages the Conservateeís financial resources and all estate assets (including real and personal property). Conservatorship fees are charged on an hourly rate and must be approved by the Superior Court prior to collection.

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Probate Conservatorships Services

Description: Probate Conservatorship is designed to help those individuals who are substantially unable to provide for their own basic needs, (food, clothing, and shelter), due to cognitive limitations, but who do not require care in a locked psychiatric facility. Referrals can be made by anyone in the community by contacting the Public Guardian/Conservatorís Office by telephone, in writing, or email. The requesting party will be asked to complete an application giving certain information regarding the individual. Upon receipt of the application, the Public Guardian/Conservatorís Office will conduct an investigation to determine if the referred individual is appropriate for Probate Conservatorship.

If appropriate, the Public Guardian/Conservator will petition the Superior Court for Conservatorship. Pending the court hearing, the Court Investigator will contact the person referred for Probate Conservatorship and file a report with the Court as to the appropriateness of the Conservatorship. At the hearing, the Court will make a judgment as to whether the Conservatorship is necessary. The Conservatorship lasts for the individualís life time or until terminated by the Court.

The Public Guardian/Conservator does not provide Probate Conservatorship services to private individuals seeking to be appointed Conservator of another. Such persons must petition the Court through a private attorney.

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Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorships Services

Description: The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) provides a legal framework for the delivery of services to individuals needing psychiatric treatment, but who are unwilling or unable to accept it. The LPS Act was enacted to prevent involuntary hospitalization of individuals in psychiatric treatment facilities without judicial review. These individuals may be detained involuntarily under a system which combines medical judgment and legal procedures. The individuals served suffer from mental illness or chronic alcoholism. LPS only applies to cases of chronic alcoholism if the client continues to suffer severe cognitive debilitation, after the use of alcohol has stopped. A referral for LPS Conservatorship may only be made by the professional person in charge of a psychiatric evaluation and treatment facility, designated by the county. Upon accepting an LPS Conservatorship application, the Public Guardian/Conservator petitions the Superior Court for Temporary Conservatorship.

If the petition is granted by the Court, a hearing date is scheduled within thirty days (30). During that period of time, the individual may be detained involuntarily, pending the permanent Court decision. Prior to the hearing, the Conservator must evaluate all possible alternatives to an LPS Conservatorship, based on what is best for the individual. If it is determined that a Conservatorship is needed, the Conservator will recommend the most suitable person to serve as conservator, or recommend the Public Conservator be appointed. Although the Public Conservator will recommend who should be appointed, the Court may make an independent decision. Conservatorship lasts for a period of one year, at which time, it must be renewed or it automatically terminates by law.

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Representative Payee Services

Description: The Public Guardian/Conservator may be appointed as Representative Payee (also called Substitute Payee) for individuals who receive Social Security or Veterans benefits, etc., but who have no need of Conservatorship. These individuals must be unable to manage their finances.

When a request for payeeship is received by the Public Guardian/Conservator, an investigation is conducted and an evaluation is made to determine if the individual is appropriate for Payee services, if they are willing to work with Mental Health Case Management and if they meet the criteria for Mental Health Case Management services. If appropriate, an application to become payee is submitted to the Veteranís Administration, Social Security Administration or other income source. The income source makes the final determination whether a payee is necessary, and who will be appointed. If the Public Guardian/Conservator is appointed payee, the clientís necessities will be paid by the Public Guardian/Conservatorís Office using the clientís benefits. Controlling the clientís funds, often provides stabilization to the client, and improves his/her quality of life. A monthly fee is charged to the client, per Social Security Administration guidelines.

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Guardianship Services

Public Guardian/Conservator: Guardianship exists as a protective mechanism for minors. The Public Guardian/Conservator may be appointed to be the Guardian of the Estate by the Superior Court, when a minor is the recipient of estate assets which are considered substantial. Generally, this occurs when there is no responsible family member available and/or the parents are deceased.

Guardianships terminate upon death of the ward, by court order, or when the ward reaches the age of majority (18 years of age).

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