NCSC releases new guardianship, conservatorship review protocols
February 1, 2023 -- The court’s duties do not end once an individual is placed into a guardianship or conservatorship. Courts give guardians and conservators enormous responsibility, and the courts must provide ongoing oversight.
To help guide courts through this process, NCSC has published new protocols for well-being reporting and accounting and delivered the recent “Reviewing Guardianship and Conservatorship Reports – A Guide for Courts” webinar to talk through the process.
“To protect individuals with guardianships and to identify guardians who are struggling, courts must thoroughly review annual reports and accountings from guardians and conservators,” said Diane Robinson, an NCSC principal court research associate who leads the Center for Elders and the Courts. “Our new review protocols help judicial officers and staff members in courts or clerks’ offices conduct meaningful reviews.”
With a monitoring protocol, court staff can identify guardians who are struggling and guide a guardian who needs assistance in fulfilling their duties. The court can also stop a guardian from using their court-appointed authority to abuse, neglect, or exploit an individual.
So what should court staff be looking for in guardianship case reporting?
Because most court officers are not trained in this area, Vermont Superior Judge Jodi French said the protocols can provide court staff with an easy-to-use, step-by-step process that ensures duties such as monitoring property and taking inventory of assets and liabilities are being performed. Lists of action steps also help courts monitor cases, as well as alerts that identify “Red Flags” such as unpaid bills and infrequent guardian visits.
In addition to the protocols and forms, Andrew Thurman, inspector general auditor/investigator with the Okaloosa County (Fla.) Clerk of Court, stressed the importance of obtaining support from other interested parties like social workers, nurses, accountants, or community members .
“If you think you’re out of your depth, you are,” Thurman shared during the webinar. “Ask for help.”