Blake P. Kavanagh
A guardianship or conservatorship is a relationship created by a court which gives the guardian the ability to make decisions for the ward. State law and terminology vary, but typically the process begins with a finding that the ward is incapacitated and the court appoints someone as a guardian of the person and/or the property of the ward. While guardianships are meant to protect the interests of the incapacitated person, there is a possibility of exploitation or abuse by the guardian.
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This plan was recently approved by the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators Joint Committee on Elders and the Courts. The Initiative focuses on partnerships of key stakeholders, prioritizes the protection and enhancement of individual rights, promotes modernization and transparency in the guardianship/conservatorship process, and improves court oversight.
The mission of the Center for Elders and the Courts is to provide leadership and resources to courts on a spectrum of issues impacting the elderly.
The revised standards replace the 1993 standards and reflect 20 years of evolution of probate courts. While they are aspirational in nature, the goals should be obtainable by probate courts that are provided with reasonable levels of resources. The Standards focus on probate court but would apply to any judge responsible for a probate matter.
Increases in three populations—the elderly, persons with disabilities, and the homeless—will require courts to rethink and revise approaches to decision-making assistance.
National Association for Court Management. This guide emphasizes the need for court guardianship programs and provides a useful tool for the development, continuation and self-assessment of such initiatives.
The guide is based on statewide efforts in Indiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. The development of WINGS is supported by the 11 member organizations of the National Guardianship Network.
These “red flags” serve as risk indicators in guardianship or conservatorship cases.
A projection of active pending adult-guardianship cases nationwide demonstrates the need for improved data collection. Retrospectively, 2010 may be remembered as a pivotal year in the call for guardianship reform at both federal and state levels.
(February 2015). The Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia. This report was designed for circuit court clerks to distribute to and help educate petitioners, guardians ad litem, attorneys, evaluators, guaridans, and conservators.
(December 2011). Washington State Institute for Public Policy. This report uses two different sources to estimate the need for public guardianship services in Washington State.
The Conservator Account Monitoring Preparation and Electronic Reporting System (CAMPERS) allows conservators appointed by courts to file their reports online.
This program uses trained volunteers to oversee guardianship cases involving incapacitated adults. The volunteers report to the court on the well-being of the wards and the status of their assets. Mandated training must be completed prior to assignment. Volunteers (often with a background in accounting, finance, or bookkeeping) examine court-required financial reports to ensure that timely and accurate accountings of wards' assets are submitted.