The office of the Public Fiduciary was established by the 1974 legislature to serve as a "fiduciary of last resort" for individuals and decedents' estate in need of guardianship, or conservatorship or public administration where there is no person or corporation qualified and willing to act in such capacity. Most of the clients of the Public Fiduciary's Office are indigent or have limited assets.
Guardianship and/or Conservatorship is appropriate only when a person is unable to manage his/her person or property and consequently is in danger of abuse, victimization or substantial danger to health. If these elements can be proven by clear and convincing evidence in court, the person may need a guardian and /or conservator to make decisions for him/her.
Steps to consider before referral:
- All other possibilities for solution of the client's problems should be exhausted. This includes referral to other agencies for appropriate services.
- Counseling with the client, personally to mobilize resources or to help the client accept the services that are available. Often this step is sufficient; a client may accept difficult changes in his or her life if someone takes the time and effort to show they care.
- If the client appears genuinely unable to manage his/her affairs, encourage the family or close friends to accept responsibility for the client and become guardian and/or conservator if necessary.
Contact should be made with an intake investigator in the Public Fiduciary's Office. If services are being requested, a referral form will be mailed out. When the form has been completed and returned, an intake investigator will review the case. If a guardianship and/or conservatorship petition is to be filed requesting the appointment of the Public Fiduciary, an investigation will be initiated, the relatives and interested parties will be contacted and the potential ward will be visited.