Monday, February 12, 2007

Comment Sought on Guardianship Revision Proposal

In a prior post dated September 28, 2006 (Guardianship Review for PA House; Input Sought), I passed along the invitation of the Ad Hoc Legislative Guardianship Study Group (which operates under the Joint State Government Commission), for anyone interested to offer suggestions regarding its study of the current Pennsylvania Guardianship statute. The Guardianship Study Group now offers its preliminary draft of potential revisions to Title 20, Chapter 55, for review by anyone who wishes to offer comments for further consideration.

The Guardianship Study Group was constituted on May 11, 2005, by a unanimous vote (196-0), of the
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which adopted House Resolution 131 (Printer's No. 1861). The Resolution was sponsored primarily by Rep. Glen Grell, who now chairs meetings of the Group, along with 33 other co-sponsors in the House. Its purpose is summarized as follows:

A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to review current guardianship statutes and programs and make findings and recommendations on the effectiveness of these statutes and programs in meeting the needs of vulnerable incapacitated persons.
The working members of the Guardianship Study Group were appointed to represent various viewpoints, interests, organizations, & expertise. Sally Schoffstall, Esq., of Orefield, and I are members representing the practicing bar. Judge Stanley Ott, of Norristown, and Judge Carol Van Ormer, of Chambersburg, represent the Orphans' Court Division Judges. Professor Larry Frolik, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is active. Departments of state government (Health, Aging, Public Welfare), non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and elected officials also are represented.

The Group held its first meeting on January 26, 2006. Now, one year (and many meetings) later, it has coalesced its considerations and concerns into a discussion draft of proposed revisions to the Guardianship statute.

The draft is fifty pages long. Today, I will post it as an attachment onto the listservs of both the Elder Law Section and the Probate & Trust Division (of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section), of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, requesting comments.

Unfortunately, I cannot attach the draft to this blog. However, if any reader desires to review a copy of the discussion draft, please request a copy from me ( confirming your reply email address capable of receiving an attachment.

Several of the proposed amendments reflect certain policy decisions by the Group. Other proposed provisions, such as the expanded & specified administrative powers set forth in Section 5521, are more technical in nature.

Many of the proposed amendments are based on the proposals of a prior JSGC Guardianship and Power of Attorney Drafting Subcommittee, chaired by Jack Lombard, which were contained in a May, 1996 Report issued by JSGC (not adopted by the Legislature, to date).

The Guardianship Study Group seeks input from practitioners, and from other people who are involved in the Guardianship system, regarding the discussion draft.
Already, the Orphans' Court judges have posed significant questions regarding the workability of proposed Section 5521(b), which, therefore, likely will be restated.

Comments on the discussion draft should be sent by e-mail to JSGC Staff Attorney Steve Rehrer ( by March 1, 2007.

The Guardianship Study Group then will review all the comments at its next meeting on March 28, 2007, in Harrisburg.

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