Home > Our Services > Protection + Safety > Legal Guardianship Programs

Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS) Legal Guardianship Programs

Our programs assist those who are unable to manage their basic personal and financial needs with the goal of promoting their stability and wellness. We also manage the affairs of recently deceased individuals who do not have available friends or family to resolve their estate.

The scope of these programs is outlined in California State Code and authorized by the San Francisco Superior Court.

Our programs:  Public Guardian |  Public ConservatorPublic Administrator | Representative Payee  



Public Guardian

The Public Guardian provides critical wraparound services to individuals who are unable to protect themselves from abuse or exploitation or provide for their own basic needs as a result of cognitive impairment often caused by dementia, traumatic brain injury, or other conditions. These services are provided through a legal process known as conservatorship and the Public Guardian must be court-appointed.

The Public Guardian ensures access to comprehensive services that include appropriate medical care, social work services, and financial management. Typically, clients who are served by the Public Guardian do not have available family members or loved ones who can reliably provide these services.

Anyone can make a referral to the Public Guardian. The majority of referrals are from acute care hospitals. For more information, call (415) 355-3555 or email SFPGReferral@sfgov.org.


Public Conservator

The Public Conservator is court appointed to support adults who are unable to meet their basic needs and accept voluntary treatment due to serious mental illness.

Our office strives to promote wellness and recovery in the least restrictive setting possible. The Public Conservator has the legal responsibility to authorizes psychiatric treatment and placement in the most appropriate care setting. On behalf of the individuals who we serve, the Public Conservator collaborates with medical and mental health clinicians and coordinates other supportive services to help clients achieve stability. We also continually assess appropriateness for continued conservatorship services.

Referrals are only accepted from psychiatric hospitals. The referred person must meet a narrow definition of grave disability due to serious mental illness or chronic alcoholism that prevents them from providing for their food, clothing, or shelter, and who have been found by the court unable or unwilling to accept voluntary treatment.

In collaboration with the Department of Public Health, the Public Conservator is also piloting a new program known as Housing Conservatorship. This program serves a very small number of vulnerable adults in San Francisco who suffer from serious mental illness and a substance use disorder.

To learn more or to consult about a situation involving a vulnerable adult, call (415) 355-3555.


Public Administrator

The Public Administrator strives to provide dignity after death for San Franciscans who have passed away without available family members or loved ones who are able to handle their estate or remains.

The Public Administrator must be appointed by the court and the duties of the office include identifying any and all family members and loved ones,  searching for wills and trusts, planning the disposition of decedent’s remains, locating and managing assets, monitoring creditor claims, reviewing taxes, and administering asset distribution to heirs and beneficiaries. 

For more information, call (415) 355-3555.


Representative Payee

The Representative Payee Program provides financial management services to older adults and adults with disabilities who cannot manage their own funds. 

We help clients meet their daily needs and maintain well-being and independence. This includes supporting enrollment in public benefit programs, as well as working closely with case managers to provide budgeted spending money.

Participants in this voluntary program must be referred by their case manager. For more information, call (415) 355-3555 or email sfreppayee@sfgov.org to request an application.