Office of the Public Guardian

Office of the Public Guardian

Advance care planning, like making a living will or creating a durable power of attorney, can help ensure your wishes are honored and avoid the possibility of having family members disagree about medical decisions on your behalf. For Iowans who are not capable of making their own decisions about legal, financial, or health care matters, the Office of Public Guardian (formerly known as the Office of Substitute Decision Maker) strives to fill that gap.

Established in Iowa Code (Chapter 231E), the Office of Public Guardian may act as an individual's guardian; conservator; attorney-­in-fact under a health care power of attorney document; agent under a financial power of attorney document; personal representative; or representative payee. The mission of the Office of Public Guardian is to preserve individual independence through a person-centered process by:

  • Providing education;
  • Providing assistance to public and private substitute decision makers;
  • When necessary, assisting in substitute decision-making proceedings; and
  • Providing substitute decision-making services in the least restrictive manner.

The Office of Public Guardian will only be appointed by the court as the substitute decision maker in a last resort.


To be eligible, an individual must be an Iowa resident who is at least 18 years old and:

  • Have no appropriate or responsible person available to serve as a substitute decision maker; or
  • Be without adequate resources to compensate a substitute decision-maker.

For additional information, contact:
Office of Public Guardian
510 E 12th St., Ste. 2
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: (515) 725-3333 or (800) 532-3213