Public Guardian/Public Conservator/Public Administrator

Who We are

The Public Conservator is a county office established pursuant to state law. The Public Conservator in Merced County oversees and conducts the investigation and administration of conservatorships established for individuals who suffer from a severe mental illness and are unwilling or unable to accept treatment on a voluntary basis. In addition the Public Conservator 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 or manage their own finances.

During the course of the investigation, the assigned Deputy Public Conservator 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 Conservator will recommend the appointment of the Public Conservator.

 The Public Conservator is a fiduciary with duties and responsibilities for any individual placed under his/her care. A Deputy Public 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.


Public Conservator

The Public Conservator serves the community by providing investigative and fiduciary services to adults who are unable to provide for their own basic personal needs due to a severe mental disorder or disabling physical condition. Deputy Public Conservator's and staff are committed to ensuring that individualized personal treatment, supervision and financial oversight is provided so that the conservatee can achieve their highest level of self-determination, autonomy and independence

Public Administrator

The Public Administrator has the legal authority to take protective custody of property of a decedent, and to investigate the decedent's assets, obligations, and locate the decedent’s family. The Public Administrator may open probate for the decedent’s estate, or refer the estate to the appropriate person(s) for administration. The Public Administrator manages estates and makes final arrangements for Merced County residents who die without a will or any known relatives able or willing to act on the decedent's behalf to manage and resolve the estate. Working through appropriate methods of probate, the Public Administrator manages the estate until proper distribution is completed.

The Public Administrator is legally mandated to serve in a fiduciary capacity to provide professional estate management services to county residents. The powers of the Public Administrator are mandated by the Probate Code of the State of California. (Cal Prob Code § 7600 et. seq.).

The Public Administrator's duties are:

  • To protect the decedent's property from waste, loss or theft;
  • Make appropriate burial arrangements;
  • Conduct thorough investigations to discover all assets;
  • Ensure that the estate is administered according to the decedent's wishes;
  • Pay decedent's bills and taxes; and
  • Locate persons entitled to inherit from the estate and ensure that these individuals receive their inheritance.

Office of the Public Conservator

Serving: Merced County Residents

Facility: County Operated

Region: Countywide

Address: 301 East 13th Street, Merced, CA 95341

Phone: (209) 381-6840
Fax: (209) 724-4027

Email: Behavioral Health Public Administrator

Eligibility: Conservatorship referral criteria-LPS-Grave disability due to a mental disorder and unable to provide for their food, clothing, or shelter. Probate-Unable to provide for their food, clothing or shelter due to a disabling medical condition

Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.