In a well-ordered society with strong families and a dynamic social or religious structure, all citizens in a community would live happily and healthy until they eventually pass away, leaving an estate to family or other loved ones. Unfortunately, things do not always work in such a structured and straightforward way. When there is someone who cannot represent himself legally, or when a situation arises that demands fair, impartial representation, cities and counties often hire or elect a public administrator. Public administrators serve in various ways.
Advocate for the Mentally Disabled
Public administrators work with various government and private advocacy agencies and organizations to assist the mentally disabled by becoming their official guardian. Since many mentally disabled citizens cannot make legal decisions or request what's best for them, a public administrator is appointed to make these decisions for them. This assistance varies from locating financial resources to arranging assisted living or home health care. Elderly citizens with limited mental faculties, living alone or with no immediate family, may also need a public administrator's assistance in similar ways.
Advocate for Minors
When the parents of minors pass away with no will or arrangements for their children, a public administrator is assigned to begin the process of caring for their needs. Often they will be appointed as the child's legal guardian until they are placed in long-term facilities or are adopted. Decisions such as health care and educational choices must be made by the public administrator until family placement occurs. Administrators may assist in estate services for these children, including arranging the liquidation of property and securing a trust fund to financially care for the child if assets are present.
Other Estate Matters
When any citizen passes away with no willing or immediate family and no financial arrangements, a public administrator is assigned to liquidate his property and attempt to pay any outstanding debts the deceased had accumulated. Significant research may be necessary to locate assets, clear accounts, and notify creditors of the passing of those under her charge. She may also arrange for the party to be buried in a location set aside for those with no previous arrangements and will record the death with appropriate authorities.
Public administrators are often the bridge between a person in severe need and social workers from other agencies or organizations. In cases where there is no living will and multiple parties are in dispute over the property of an incapacitated person, a public administrator is appointed to help decide the wishes of her client. When end-of-life arrangements are not made and when family members request end-of-life support, a public administrator may be appointed to help discern the wishes of her client.
- Cedar County (Missouri): What are the Duties of a Public Administrator?
- Missouri General Assembly: Missouri Revised Statutes
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social and Human Service Assistants
- Demacrablog: Top 50 Public Administration Web Resources
- Jefferson County (Missouri): Services of the Public Administrator
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