The Oregon Public Guardian & Conservator

Chris Rosin was appointed as the Oregon Public Guardian & Conservator in September 2017. Chris has significant experience as a Deputy Public Guardian and an Adult Protective Services Specialist. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law and is an active member of the Oregon State Bar. Chris has a passion for advocating for our society’s most vulnerable, and leads the OPGC program with a focus on allowing the people served to have the most independence and self-direction of their own lives that is safely possible.

About The Program

The Oregon Public Guardian and Conservator Program (OPGC) serves as court appointed, surrogate decision makers for adults incapable of making some or most of the decisions needed to be safe due to significant cognitive impairment. The Oregon Public Guardian only serves in this role as a last resort; where there are no less restrictive alternative to guardianship to resolve the identified safety risk. Where guardianship is the only option to make the person safe, OPGC will become involved only if there is no other responsible person willing and able to serve. Those in need of OPG's services include persons with age-related cognitive impairment, persons who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, persons with serious and persistent mental health issues and persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Guardianship is one of the most severe restrictions on a person’s right to self-determination and should never be considered lightly. Under guardianship, a person loses the right to make their own decisions about their lives. A guardian has the authority to determine where someone lives, what services they receive, who their doctor is, what medical care and procedures they receive, how their income is spent, who may visit them and many other decisions that most people take for granted.

Guardianship should only be considered as an option if all other less restrictive alternatives have been attempted and failed, or evaluated to be non-viable.

OPGC follows nationally recognized guardianship standards. All OPGC professional staff are National Certified Guardians, by the Center for Guardianship Certification. OPGC follows the National Guardianship Association model practice standards and ethical principles, which hold.

In making decisions for others, we follow the principle of surrogate decision making, where we seek to learn and be guided by each protected person's needs, preferences and goals and make decisions consistent with what the individuals currently wants or would have wanted in the situation prior to their incapacity. In the event is cannot be determined what they want or would have wanted, or where following what they want would cause serious harm, we make decisions based on a person's best interest, with consideration for the least restrictive, most normalalizing course of action.

The OPGC program has extremely limited resources and lacks the capacity to meet the full need for services in the state. As a result OPGC continues to focus on serving the individuals most at risk of immediate harm and triages intakes based on level of risk and potential harm.

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

All individuals considered for OPGC services must meet the definition of incapacitated under Oregon Law and all other legal requirements necessary to establish guardianship. In determining whether to accept referrals, OPGC must prioritizes cases due to our limited resources. We triage cases in the following order of priority.

First Priority

  • Persons at risk of severe harm or death due to their inability to make safe decisions.
  • Persons suffering significant abuse or neglect by others with an inability to protect themselves.

Second Priority

  • Recent cycle of decline causing risk of serious harm or death, with current but temporary stability in a medical center or psychological facility, where that temporary safety cannot be sustained without legal guardianship.
  • Recent abuse with high risk of repeat.
  • Replace a current abusive guardian or conservator.
  • 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 where services cannot be obtained without guardianship.
  • Unsuitable current fiduciary with significant risk factors.
  • Conservatorship only to recover assets, protect from exploitation, and other high risk factors.

Required For All Cases

Prospective referrals are screened by OPGC 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 fall within OPGC's top priorities (see above).

In addition there must be:

  • No less restrictive alternative to guardianship or conservatorship. These can include voluntary consent by the individual to receive necessary services, a health care power of attorney agreement, advanced directives, appointment of a representative payee for benefits, civil commitment and others.
  • 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 must be possible.