Public Administrator Jeanna McGarrah
What does the county public administrator do?
The Public Administrator manages private property that has no suitable care person, such as property of orphaned children with no guardian, or property of individuals who die without family or will, or those declared incompetent.
The Public Administrator's office is responsible for decisions regarding placement, medical consents, educational/habilitation plans, finances and the general health and safety of each person, or ward, whose care is entrusted to this office by the Probate Court.
The Public Administrator's duties are to care for those individuals that, unfortunately, no one else can or will. Their actions are reviewed by Associate Courts and their judges, but there are state laws (Medicaid, Statutes), federal laws (Social Security, Medicare), and various other agencies that are there to maintain a presence in the welfare of the incapacitated individual.
Missouri County Public Administrators have duties required by chapters 473-475 RSMo. Duties specified by RSMo 475.120 are discretionary.
In all except three of Missouri's 114 counties, public administrators are elected to serve four-year terms. The counties of Jackson, St. Louis and St. Charles have the charter form of government and those Public Administrators are appointed by the Circuit Judges.
All public administrator offices in the State of Missouri are "fee offices" meaning that fees are charged for services (usually based upon the time invested by the office and upon the client's ability to pay). Fees must be approved by court order.
It shall be the primary responsibility of the public administrator and her employees to work toward improving the quality of life of persons under guardianship while protecting the ward's dignity and self-respect. The ward's right of self-determination shall be observed whenever possible. The growth of the ward shall be encouraged through his/her increased participation in decision-making. The public administrator and her employees shall use the standard of informed consent when making decisions on behalf of the ward. All employees shall understand and follow the National Guardianship Association's Code of Ethics. Further, all must understand that the guardian/conservator is required to exercise the highest degree of trust and loyalty when making decisions for the ward/protectee.
The Newton County Public Administrator's Office presently carries an open case load of around 200. Most of the wards of the Public Administrator are mentally ill, mentally challenged and frail elderly individuals While most clients reside in Southwest Missouri, some (for various reasons) live in other areas of the State and in several other states, as well. Of the some 200 ward/protectees under guardian and/or conservatorship, approximately 75% have mental illnesses.
Public Administrators are appointed by the Missouri Circuit Court, Probate Division, to serve primarily on three types of cases:
1. Guardian and/or conservator for mentally disabled persons
2. Personal representative of deceased persons
3. As conservator of minor estates
However, the majority of appointments in any public administrator's office will be as guardian/conservator for mentally disabled persons.
The authority and obligations of the Public Administrator are created by Missouri Statute 473.430, RSMo et seq. RSMo 473.743 sets forth the kind and category of cases and estates which the Public Administrator shall assume, including decedent estates, minor's estates and the estates of persons who are disabled and incapacitated.
The staff includes four paid employees who work at the pleasure of the public administrator. They perform such duties in her place as outlined in each individual job description such as accounting, clerical, reception and maintenance duties. This is especially important since the Public Administrator or one of her deputies must be on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Responsibilities of Public Administrator
National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Aging
Administration on Aging
Area Agency on Aging
Hours: 8 a.m - 4:30 p.m.
Monday-Friday (except holidays)
101 S. Wood St.
Neosho, MO 64850