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​O​rego​n Public Guardian ​

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​​Guardianship Resources​

Program Information

The Oregon Public Guardian and Conservator Program (OPG) is a new program, authorized by law (ORS 125.675 et seq.) OPG serves as a court appointed, surrogate decision maker for adults incapable of making some or most decisions about their persons and affairs, and who have no one else to serve as their guardian or conservator. Those in need of OPG's services include persons with age-related neurocognitive issues, persons with serious and persistent mental health issues and persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

OPG follows nationally recognized guardianship standards. All OPG professional staff are certified. The program operates independently. The only direct services we provide are guardianships, conservatorships and other fiduciary assistance.

In making decisions for others, we seek to learn and be guided by each protected person's needs, preferences and goals. In the event these cannot be determinded or fulfilling them would likely result in substantial harm, we make decisions based on a person's best interest, with consideration for the least restrictive, most normal course of action.

We have begun to provide services. However, OPG remains under development. Our staff and resources are very limited. As a result, OPG services are only available in certain areas of the state, and our focus is on individuals most at risk and incapable of making decisions.

Need for Services

In relation to many other states, Oregon has very limited public guardian services. In 2012, the Public Guardian and Conservator Task Force estimated that between 1,575 and 3,175 adult Oregonians are incapacitated and need but lack services, and that this population is growing.  Read the 2012 Guardianship Task Force Report.

Priority of Cases

In determining whether to accept referrals, OPG prioritizes cases. Our priorities follow. Because of our limited capacity to provide services, we are only serving individuals who fall into the highest of these priorities.

First Priority

  • Severe and current abuse or neglect.
  • Profound self-neglect with life threatening issues.

Second Priority

  • Recent abuse with high risk of repeat.
  • Guardianship to secure a crucial placement/service.
  • Replace a current abusive fiduciary.
  • Current financial exploitation negatively affecting care and placement.

Third Priority

  • Serious medical issues, deterioration likely but not currently life threatening.
  • Management of a terminal illness.
  • Unsuitable current fiduciary with significant risk factors.
  • Conservatorship only for pension/ trust income. when impacting care.
  • Conservatorship only to recover assets, protect from exploitation, and other high risk factors.

Required for all Cases

Prospective referrals are screened by OPG and local interagency teams. We will only take cases when the following criteria and requirements are met. Our evaluations include an in-person assessment of the individual's need for guardianship and/or conservatorship, including the individual's capacity to make informed decisions.

The proposed protected person:

  • Must be age 18 or older.
  • Must be incapacitated or financially incapable, as defined by Oregon law.
  • Must be at imminent risk of abuse, neglect, self-neglect and/or exploitation.
  • Must fall within OPG's top priorities (see above).

In addition, there must be:

  • No less restrictive alternative to guardianship or conservatorship.
  • No other responsible person able or willing to serve as guardian or conservator for the person.
  • A viable plan for improving the care and safety of the individual.

Generally, OPG will not seek guardianship where the only goal is placement, involuntary treatment or public safety.

Legal Standards for Incapacity

Before a guardianship or conservatorship can be initiated, a court must determine that the person is "incapacitated" (guardianship standard) or "financially incapable" (conservatorship standard).

Under Oregon law, "incapacitated" is defined as "a condition in which a person's ability to receive and evaluate information effectively or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that the person presently lacks the capacity to meet the essential requirements for the person's physical health or safety." (ORS 125.005(3))

"Financially incapable" is defined as, "a condition in which a person is unable to [effectively] manage [his or her] financial resources... for reasons including, but not limited to, mental illness, mental retardation, physical illness or disability, chronic intoxication, confinement, detention by a foreign power..." (ORS 125.005(5))