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Appointment of Public Administrators

Public Administrators are appointed:

  • When there are no family members that are willing, available, or suitable to serve.
  • In cases where physical or financial abuse has occurred and family members themselves are the perpetrators.
  • When an older ward/client may be diagnosed with Alzheimers or another form of dementia.
  • When a ward/protectee may have outlived relatives or family members or family members are too elderly and unable to serve.
  • Mental illness in clients. Family members may have tried to help the incapacitated loved one but has become "burned out" by the responsibility. Persons with mental illnesses can be quite manipulative (especially with parents and siblings) which can actually harm the ward’s recovery process.
  • Deceased estates where the Public Administrator has been appointed to serve as a personal representative in situations and no will and no heir available or suitable to serve. More often than not, the Public Administrator is assigned to a case because family members cannot agree on which one to serve or a family member may be accused by others as taking some of the estate’s assets.
  • Although the Public Administrator does not serve as a guardian of minors, the Probate Court will in some instances, appoint them. Parents if living are by law the natural guardians of their children. However, if custody has been removed, the Division of Family Services assumes this responsibility. For example, if parents are killed in an automobile accident with an insurance settlement going to the minor children. This will require the establishment of a conservatorship.

Special thanks to Carolyn Vienhage, retired Public Administrator for Green County, for her contribution of information.