You’ve heard over the years of bold advances improving adult guardianship. Sometimes state legislation strengthens court proceedings and oversight, or national conferences make recommendations about better capacity evaluation and public guardianship models. Some state judicial systems have put standards, certification, and background checks in place. But you’ve also continued to read about alarming cases of guardian malfeasance, high caseloads in public programs, unnecessary appointments for some yet unmet needs for others, and insufficient funding for court review and investigators. Clearly, while there have been successes, a lot remains to be done.
Whither guardianship reform? Where do we stand? What can senior lawyers do? Let’s look at the outcome and implementation thus far of the 2011 Third National Guardianship Summit (Summit)—especially the potentially transformative concept of state “Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders” or “WINGS.”
The Third National Guardianship Summit, a landmark consensus conference sponsored by the 10 National Guardianship Network (NGN) entities and key cosponsors, concluded nearly two years ago with much fanfare. The Summit was funded by the State Justice Institute, the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging, and the NGN organizations, and it convened at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. The Summit focused on post-appointment guardian performance and decision making across several key areas of practice. Its 93 participants crafted some 43 standards for guardians and 21 recommendations for action by courts, legislators, and others. It was hard work and holds considerable promise for influencing guardianship systems.