LPS Conservatorships in California

An LPS Conservatorship (named after the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act) is a special type of conservatorship established in California designed to provide for people who are gravely disabled due to a mental disorder. The purpose of an LPS conservatorship is to provide individualized treatment, supervision, and living arrangements for the conservatee (the person who is severely disabled).

The primary aim of the LPS Conservatorship is to ensure that individuals who cannot provide for their own basic needs due to mental health conditions are properly cared for. It also aims to balance the needs of the individual for autonomy and dignity with public safety.

1. Situations that Give Rise to an LPS Conservatorship

An LPS conservatorship is generally used in situations where an individual:

  • Has a diagnosed mental disorder that causes them to be a danger to themselves or others, or
  • Is unable to provide for their basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter.

Examples of mental disorders that could result in an LPS Conservatorship include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and certain forms of severe depression. However, having a mental disorder alone is not sufficient for an LPS Conservatorship. The individual’s condition must cause them to be a danger to themselves or others, or prevent them from being able to provide for their basic personal needs.

2. Procedures to Establish an LPS Conservatorship

Establishing an LPS Conservatorship involves a legal process that is more restrictive and complex than other forms of conservatorship. The procedure involves the following steps:

  • Initial Referral: An individual must be referred for conservatorship by a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist. The referral is usually initiated by a physician or social worker familiar with the individual’s condition.
  • Investigation: After referral, a county investigator will evaluate the situation, which includes interviewing the proposed conservatee and others (family, friends, caregivers), reviewing medical records, and determining whether an LPS conservatorship is necessary or if less restrictive alternatives may be appropriate.
  • Court Proceedings: If the investigator recommends a conservatorship, the county’s Public Guardian’s office will file a petition in court. The proposed conservatee has the right to a jury trial, and an attorney is appointed to represent them if they can’t afford one.
  • Appointment of a Conservator: If the court agrees that a conservatorship is necessary, it will appoint a conservator, who is usually a professional public conservator but may also be a relative or friend.
  • Annual Review: LPS Conservatorships are reviewed every year by the court to determine if the conservatorship is still necessary. The conservatee or their representative may also petition the court to end the conservatorship at any time.

Remember that the conservatee’s rights are highly protected under an LPS conservatorship. They retain the right to be treated with dignity and respect, the right to quality treatment that promotes their recovery and enhances their quality of life, and the right to advocacy services.