December 06, 2018

Guardianship

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing Nov. 28 to examine the findings and recommendations of a new committee report entitled “Ensuring Trust: Strengthening State Efforts to Overhaul the Guardianship Process and Protect Older Americans.” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), the committee’s ranking member, said that the report, the culmination of a year of research and analysis, includes input from over 100 stakeholders, advocates, representatives of the courts, and state officials. He explained that the report found that there are persistent and widespread problems with guardianship around the country. “While most guardians act in the best interest of the individual they care for, far too often, we have heard horror stories, and that’s probably an understatement, of guardians who have abused, neglected or exploited a person subject to guardianship,” Casey said. Witnesses appearing before the committee included representatives from the National Center for State Courts, the SeniorLAW Center in Pennsylvania, and the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. All of them noted reforms that are happening all over the country and steps that can be taken to further improve the guardianship system. When the committee held a hearing on guardianship in July, the ABA submitted a statement for the record urging the federal government to provide funding and support for training, research, exchange of information on practices, consistent collection of data, and development of state, local and territorial standards regarding adult guardianship. The ABA statement also recommended recognition of the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act, support for state demonstration grants under Section 501 of the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017, and the establishment of a Guardianship Court Improvement Program to provide a permanent structure for federal funding. Casey announced at the Nov. 28 hearing that he and committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) were introducing S. 3669, bipartisan legislation to help states improve guardianship oversight and data collection.