In an effort to target guardianship abuses, a bill is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives called the “Guardianship Accountability Act.” Introduced last summer by Democratic Representative Darren Soto, the bill (H.R. 4174) seeks to help states improve guardianship oversight and data collection by designating a National Online Resource Center on Guardianship; authorizing grants for the purpose of developing State Guardianship Databases; and establishing procedures for sharing background check information related to appointed guardians with other jurisdictions. Sponsored by representatives from both parties, the bill is currently in committee. The proposed legislation is ambitious, but if passed it would go a long way to safeguard and protect the vulnerable.
The bill sets forth a number of findings concerning the current status of guardianship law and regulation in this country. Noting that an estimated 1.3 million adults and approximately $50 billion in assets are under the care of guardians in the United States, the bill goes on to state:
The bill proposes that the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (which was established under the Social Security Act) set up a National Online Resource Center on Guardianship (the “Center”). The Center would collect and publish information for use by individuals subject to guardianship, guardians, courts, state and local governments, and community organizations. The Center would also:
The proposed legislation seeks to amend the Social Security Act to ensure that funds are available for: the creation of state databases to collect information about the number and characteristics of guardianship arrangements, guardians, and individuals subject go guardianship; the use of trained court visitors to improve court administration of guardianship arrangements; and methods for collecting, storing, and making available to the appropriate individuals, organizations, and entities information on prospective, current, and previously appointed guardians.
Oregon has already taken important steps toward improved guardianship oversight. Currently, Oregon law requires guardians to file a yearly report with the court describing how the protected person is doing, how the guardianship powers have been used during the year, and whether or not the guardianship should be continued. Oregon was also one of the first states to have a statewide prosecutor devoted entirely to elder abuse.
If you need assistance becoming a guardian for a loved one, we welcome you to contact Litowich Law. Based in Salem, we serve clients throughout Oregon and are dedicated to helping to protect you and your family now and for the future.