A Mental Health Conservatorship, established by the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act of 1967, is the legal term in California which gives one adult (conservator) the responsibility for overseeing the comprehensive medical (mental) treatment for an adult (conservatee) who has a serious mental illness. The purpose of conservatorship, established by the LPS Act, “is to provide individualized treatment, supervision and placement” for the conservatee which means that the conservator is responsible for ensuring basic needs such as food, clothes and shelter, as well as medical treatment and financial matters are met.
L.A. County Conservatorship Process
- Conservatorship starts with an evaluation of the individual by authorized Mental Health Professionals, usually within a facility designated by the Department of Mental Health to do LPS evaluations. Often, the individual has been placed on a 72 hour hold (5150). At this time the Psychiatrist must obtain current knowledge of the individual’s condition, in order to deem the person as having a mental illness and, as a result, unable to provide for themselves food, clothing or shelter.
- After the Psychiatrist’s determination is made, they may submit an application for conservatorship to the Public Guardian Office within the Department of Mental Health.
- A Deputy Public Conservator of the Public Guardian will interview the referred individual, review medical charts and talk to medical staff and family members in order to submit a written report. This report is sent to Department 95 of the Mental Health Superior Court with a recommendation for or against establishing the conservatorship.
- If the Public Guardian recommends the establishment of a conservatorship, the court hearing will usually be held three weeks after the Superior Court’s receipt of the application.
- At the court hearing, the Proposed Conservatee and all interested parties, such as family members, are present. The County Counsel will present the case and may call witnesses. The Proposed Conservatee’s representative attorney (usually the Public Defender) will then oppose or affirm the recommendation for conservatorship.
- Based on the evidence and unique factors of the individual case, the Superior Court can deny the request or appoint a Conservator. If a family member is appointed Conservator, that person will receive further information and instruction from the court.
WHERE TO CALL for further information:
L.A. Public Guardian Office: 213-974-0515
Emergency only, after hours: 213-974-1234
- California Welfare and Institute Codes 5150, 5250, 5332 available on the internet
- Los Angeles Office of the Public Guardian (Kathie Van Dyke) – public conservator 213-974-0549
- SSI and SS 800-772-1213
- Medi-Cal 877-597-4777
- LA County of Mental Health 800-854-7771
- Search the internet for LPS Conservatorship (not conservatorship)
- Helen Ditko (LA Department of Mental Health) family advocate for conservatorship; Call her to help get the doctor to initiate the conservatorship 213-738-3948
- Dr . Roderick Shaner, LA Medical Director for DMH 213-738-4603
- DMH Countywide Resource Management email 323-226-4447
- LA Patient Rights Advocacy 213-738-4873
- Assisted Outpatient Treatment 213-738-3433
- Full Service Partnership 213-738-4620
- Criminal Court Mental Health Liaison 626-403-4370
- County of Mental Health 800-854-7771
Printable LPS Conservatorship Page:
What To Do When Petitioning for LPS Conservatorship
How to Prepare when Petitioning for a Loved One's LPS Conservatorship
If you need an LPS Conservatorship for a loved one who is gravely disabled by a mental illness, the concise information you produce will help provide the doctor a fuller understanding of the serious nature of your loved one’s condition. You may follow the steps below:
- Use the given TWO TEMPLATES below to compile information (Medical History and Symptoms) for the person who is to be conserved.
- Then, give this information to the Police and the Psychiatric Evaluation Team (PET).
- When your loved one is hospitalized, give a copy to the Social Worker at the hospital, and request that they give this information to the Psychiatrist. You can ask if the Psychiatrist received your provided information in order to validate that he/she has received it.
- Send a copy to the Public Guardian’s Office after the Hospital’s referral for the LPS Conservatorship is filed.
*State health care providers MUST take your information by Law.* If health care providers refuse your information, provide them a copy of the CA Welfare and Institutions Code 5008.2
Template One: Mental Health History
- On one page list a history in chronological order of hospitalizations, incarcerations, homelessness and any restraining orders which have taken place for your loved one. If you have more information to provide and you need more than one page, make a note as to how long the person has been ill or an approximate number of previous hospitalizations.
- Bold the event and underline the diagnosis. Beyond this information it is not necessary to give details, state why the person was hospitalized or that they were on a 5150. Only list the information you are aware of since you are not expected to have access to all your loved ones medical history. State the diagnosis, or use the term “psychotic behavior” when you do not know the diagnosis.
- At the bottom of the page, list the patient’s insurance such as Medi-Cal, Medicare, or private insurance. State if they receive income such as SSI. Note any allergies, medical illnesses or any pertinent information the doctor needs to know. List the following information:
- Date or Timeframe;
- Diagnosis or Behavior; (underline)
- Hospital/Prison Name;
- Hospital/Prison Address;
- Hospital/Prison Contact Information;
- Treating Doctor’s Name;
- Medications prescribed
- NOTE: If there is not a history of previous hospitalizations, incarcerations or homelessness, it is still possible to acquire an LPS Conservatorship. This can take place when it is clear that the person is gravely disabled and there are no alternatives but to conserve them because they are seriously mentally ill, refuse medications and have no insight into their illness.
- NOTE: Do not put the person’s social security number on these papers
Template Two: List of Symptoms and Characteristics
- Prepare a short detailed summary of the DSM IV symptoms of the mental illness as it applies to your loved one.
- Use short phases. Bold the titles and bullet your examples.
UNDERSTANDING LPS CONSERVATORSHIP Q & A
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
- Clinical Depression
- Chronic Alcoholism
- Public guardian- paid for by the state
- Private professional conservator
- You, a relative or a friend- the state prefers a family member for conservator
First, the person who exhibits harm to self or others is placed on a 72 hour hold (5150) by a qualified police officer, psychiatrist or mental health personnel. Usually someone will call either the police or the crises intervention team to initiate this process. To prevent the person from being harmful to others, the police make sure the person is contained. The crisis intervention team evaluates the individual and makes a recommendation for the 72 hour hold. Note that when the person is transported they are usually handcuffed to keep them safe.
After the 72 hour hold in the hospital, the treating psychiatrist may initiate a 14 day hold to continue the treatment for stabilization. A 14 day hold must have a Probable Cause hearing within 4 working days. Often families are not aware the probable cause hearing has taken place. This hearing allows the hospital to hold the patient for the 14 days.
- During the 14 day hold the doctor may request an LPS Conservatorship investigation from the public guardian‘s office. The public guardian will review the application and may petition the court for a Temporary Conservatorship AKA T-Con. They will also set the date for the LPS Conservatorship court hearing. The person will be held in the hospital under the T-Con until the court hearing. The T-Con can hold the person in the hospital up to 30 days.
- The treating psychiatrist initiates the LPS Conservatorship request with the public guardian‘s office.
- The public guardian will visit and evaluate the patient and make a recommendation to the court to either proceed or dismiss the LPS Conservatorship case.
- It is important to contact the public guardian’s office and submit the history and symptoms papers. Also, be sure to give a copy of these papers to the treating psychiatrist as soon as the person is taken to the hospital. If you don’t know which hospital the person will be transported, then you might give those papers to the crisis intervention team to deliver to the hospital. You can contact DMH Family Advocate or Patient Advocate to locate your loved one if you do not know where they were transported
- An estate conservatorship is initiated through the public guardian’s office and not through the psychiatrist. The family member may discuss the estate issues with the public guardian investigator. Or, the family conservator may request, if needed, the Estate LPS Conservatorship even after they are appointed as conservator of the person.
Approved mental health professional
- Office of the County Counsel- represent Los Angeles County in all legal proceedings, including Public Guardian in establishing conservatorship;
- Attorney- mental health court utilizes a panel of private attorneys and draws from this panel to assign the conservator an attorney when needed. This attorney may be paid for by the court. A conservator may al so chose to retain their own attorney.
- Public Defenders- represent person to be conserved and not the family
- Public Guardian- investigates LPS Conservatorship referrals and makes recommendations to the court
- District attorney- represents the hospitals with involuntary treatment; also can be more involved in criminal matters
- Court- ensures fairness and compliance with the laws in all proceedings involving involuntary treatment and conservatorships.
To place the conservatee in a private residence, licensed psychiatric or non-psychiatric residential care facility, board and care, nursing or other State licensed facility where the conservatee has free access into or out of the premises.
To place the conservatee in a portion of a private acute care psychiatric hospital, State or County hospital operated by the Regents of the University of California or by the United States Government, where the conservatee has free access into or out of the hospital.
To place the conservatee in a licensed medical acute psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing facility (Institute for Mental Disease AKA IMD) or other State or County licensed facility, where the conservatee does not have free access into or out of the premises. Pending further order of the Court, this power shall terminate within one year.
To require the conservatee to have treatment related specifically to remedying or preventing the recurrence of his her being gravely disabled.
To require the conservatee to accept psychotropic medications.
- The privilege of possessing a license to operate a motor vehicle is suspended. This power can be returned with the courts approval. The conservator can ask the psychiatrist to petition the court to allow the person to drive. It is up to the court to grant permission for driving and it is the DMV that evaluates and issues the license. Don’t ask for this at the LPS hearing.
- The privilege of possessing, controlling or maintaining custody of a firearm or any other deadly weapon is suspended.
- The right to refuse or consent to psychiatric treatment related specifically to the conservatee’s being gravely disabled. Another words, they must take the medications when the conservator consents and approves of the medications.
- The right to enter into any contract, in which the consideration for performance is money or property, is suspended. This power can be returned to the conservatee with the courts approval.
- The right to refuse or accept medical treatment is suspended. The court must approve the medical treatment for the conservatee.