Sherida Cook (R)
205 E. Fourth St.
Salem, MO. 65560
Public administrators are often appointed as guardian and/or conservator for mentally incapacitated individuals when there are no family members that are willing, available, or suitable to serve. Guardian/conservatorship is a monumental responsibility, which can be overwhelming for relatives. Public administrators will occasionally be appointed in cases where physical or financial abuse has occurred and family members themselves are the perpetrators. As in the case of the older ward/protectee, who may be suffering from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, he or she may have outlived any relatives, or, the family members themselves may be elderly and unable to serve. A common appointment of the public administrator as guardian/conservator is for wards with mental illnesses. In these situations, family members may have already been involved in trying to help the incapacitated loved one and have become "burned out." Persons with mental illnesses can be quite manipulative, especially with parents and siblings, which can sidetrack the ward's recovery process.
A small portion of the public administrator's caseload will include deceased estates where he/she has been appointed to serve as personal representative in situations where there is no will and no heir available or suitable to serve. More often than not, these deceased estates end up being settled by the public administrator because of family members who cannot agree on which one is to serve or one of them has been accused by the others taking some of the estate's assets.While the public administrator does not serve as guardian of minors, the Probate Court will, in some instances, appoint him as conservator of a minor. Parents, if living, are by law the natural guardians of their children - or if custody has been removed, the Division of Family Services assumes this responsibility. A common scenario leading to the appointment of the public administrator would be that parents are killed in an automobile accident with an insurance settlement going to minor children, which requires the establishment of a conservatorship.