The Public Administrator is a County official, established by State law. California became a State when gold was found at Sutter's Mill in 1848. After the office of Sheriff was established in 1850, to maintain law and order, and a very cold winter struck in 1850-51, many people died. To take protective possession of the property left behind by deceased miners and other transient residents from out of state, the office of the Public Administrator was established for each County in 1851.
The Public Administrator has the legal authority to take protective custody of property of a decedent, and to investigate the decedent's assets and obligations, family and other interested persons, and related information. The Public Administrator may open probate for the decedent's estate, or refer the estate to the appropriate person(s) for administration.