5 Things You Didn't Know About Guardianships in Maryland
New rules about guardianships went into effect in Maryland on January 1, 2018. The changes impact guardians, attorneys, professionals completing certificates, and judges.
New Required Training Programs and Video Orientation for GuardiansBeginning January 1, 2018, a person who wishes to serve as a guardian of a minor or disabled person must watch a video Orientation Program. Judges are not supposed to appoint guardians who have not watched the video. The nine-minute video covers the duties, roles, and responsibilities of guardians and what they can expect when serving. After watching the video, one must file a Certificate of Completion * Guardian Orientation and Training Program (CC-GN-031) with the court.
Appointed guardians must also complete training programs. Within 120 days of appointment, a guardian of the person of a minor or disabled person must complete training. A guardian of the property of a minor or disabled person must complete training within 60 days of appointment. Some courts provide the training live and in person, while others offer an online training option. The programs include videos (ranging from around 20 minutes to about an hour long) and handouts. People who have completed the programs must file a CC-GN-031 form with the court.
New Training and Eligibility Rules for Lawyers Representing Prospective WardsLawyers must go through new training programs and satisfy other eligibility standards before judges can appoint them to represent people who are the subjects of guardianship proceedings. Attorneys must complete the guardian orientation and training programs, the same as anyone else. If an attorney is to serve as a guardian of a minor or disabled person with whom she has no prior relationship, she must also watch a short video on ethics for attorney-guardians, then file a CC-GN-031 form.
The five-minute video reminds lawyers that they must follow both the rules for guardians and the Maryland Attorneys* Rules of Professional Conduct when serving as guardians. The lawyer has obligations to the minor or disabled person and to the court. The video covers such issues as communication with clients, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, taking protective action, and representing clients with diminished capacity.
Changes in Certificates for Guardianship CasesDoctors, psychologists, and licensed-certified clinical social workers (LCSW-C) have new requirements for the certificates they prepared for guardianship cases. Maryland Rule 10-202(a)(2)) now requires that these professionals complete and file a CC-GN-091 (physician), CC-GN-020 (psychologist), or CC-GN-021 (licensed-certified clinical social worker) form with the court.
The new forms are five-page certificates that describe or identify:
* the professional*s relationship with the patient,
* the professional*s evaluations of the patient,
* the patient*s diagnoses,
* the patient*s physical and mental condition,
* all medications the patient takes, including the dosage and reason for the drug,
* the patient*s cognitive and everyday functioning,
* the professional*s opinion as to whether the patient has a disability that prevents him from making or communicating responsible decisions about himself and his property.
New Factors for Requiring a BondWhen the court decides whether to require a guardian of the property to post a bond, the judge must consider new factors. These factors include:
* The size of the minor or disabled person*s estate,
* Whether the court can create a restricted account,
* How much the minor or disabled person relies on the income or receipts of his estate to pay the facility that provides his care,
* Whether the proposed guardian has a criminal record,
* Whether the bond or lack of one will create a burden on the estate,
* The credit history of the proposed guardian,
* Evidence that the proposed guardian is financially responsible,
* Any impediments to the guardian getting a bond, and
* For guardians who are attorneys, being in good standing with the Maryland Bar and in compliance with Rule 19-605.
A New Look at Convictions for Disqualifying OffensesIf someone who wants to serves as a guardian has a conviction considered a disqualifying offense, the judge must consider new factors when deciding if there is good cause to appoint the person. The proposed guardian is now given the opportunity to show that there is good cause to appoint her despite the conviction.
The court must look to these factors to determine if good cause exists:
* The nature of the disqualifying offense,
* How much time has passed since the conviction,
* How the proposed guardian has conducted herself since the conviction,
* The relationship between the minor or disabled person and the proposed guardian, and
* Whether the minor or disabled person has any special vulnerability.