Monday, February 04, 2008

Guardianship Laws Develop in Other States

On February 1, 2008, the National Center on Elder Abuse updated its annual report on state adult guardianship legislation, entitled "2007 State Adult Guardianship Legislation: Directions of Reform" (Word format, 12 pages).

In 2007, at least 13 states passed a total of 16 adult guardianship bills – as compared with 16 bills in eight states passed in 2006.

Connecticut passed a major revision targeting procedures for appointment, limited orders and procedures for appealing probate court decisions.

Washington, Arkansas and Nevada passed legislation creating or strengthening an office of public guardianship. * * *
The Report noted those states that adopted new or amended guardianship laws in 2007:
  • Connecticut: Bolstering Procedures for Appointment and Appeal:
Enactment of Public Act 07-116 , which became effective on October 1, 2007, reflects sweeping changes in Connecticut’s guardianship law that update and modernize the state’s law consistent with model standards. These amendments reflect a “person-centered” approach that requires courts to evaluate each instant situation on an individually-tailored basis. The most fundamental aspect of the amendments is that they build on prior Connecticut law to require a presumption of limited, rather than plenary, conservatorship.
  • Washington, Arkansas, Nevada: Public Guardianship Programs:
The National Public Guardianship Study defined “public guardianship” as “the appointment and responsibility of a public official or publicly funded organization to serve as legal guardian in the absence of willing and responsible family members or friends to serve as, or in the absence of resources to employ, a private guardian.”

As of mid-2007, a total of 44 states had specific statutory provisions on public guardianship or guardianship of last resort. * * * In 2007, three states passed bills establishing public guardianship programs. (Two additional states (Nebraska and Oregon) introduced public guardianship legislation that did not pass.)

Pennsylvania had already adopted, in its current statute (1992), a "person-centered approach" to guardianship with a preference for limited guardianships, somewhat like that enacted in Connecticut. However, Pennsylvania has not adopted a "public guardian" office, and appears unlikely to do so.

The report also tracked developments in States on the Move: Additional Legislation:
  • Arizona: Evaluation of Incapacity.
  • Arrkansas: Definition of Incapacitated Person.
  • California: Amending Last Year’s Omnibus Act.
  • District of Columbia: Act 17-161 makes notable amendments to the DC guardianship statute.
  • Illinois: Payment of Fees.
  • Kentucky: Capacity to Vote.
  • Minnesota: Guardianship Study Group.
  • Nevada: Changes in Temporary Guardianship; Powers of Guardian.
  • Rhode Island: Clarifying Guardian ad Litem Qualifications.
  • Virginia: Clarifying Requirements for Sale of Real Estate.
The listing omits any reference to the the pending study efforts in Pennsylvania, still underway, but not yet the subject of legislation. See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "PA Guardianship Reform Report Issued by JSGC" (05/30/07).

The announcement about the update report appeared on the NCEA Elder Abuse listserve, which is administered by the University of Delaware as a project of the NCEA and is supported in part by the U.S. Administration on Aging. It concluded: "If you know of additional state adult guardianship legislation enacted in 2007, please contact Erica Wood, ABA Commission on Law and Aging" (Email:; Ofc Ph: 202-662-8693).