Results of a survey of judges and administrators, published in Adult Guardianship Court Data and Issues, concluded that "guardianship monitoring efforts by the courts are generally inadequate." Some of the challenges noted in the report include the shortage of staff and resources, the inadequacy of case management systems to account for the guardianship process, and the inability of court staff to monitor the health and well-being of incapacitated persons. The monitoring process begins with the establishment of a guardianship/conservatorship and the submission of initial reports. Generally, reports include an inventory and annual updates, at minimum. Increasingly, there are greater demands that guardians and conservators submit prospective care plans and estate management plans as well.
The National Probate Court Standards identifies some basic timeframes and expectations for the submission of reports (Standard 3.3.16), which are summarized below.
Required at the hearing or within 60 dates
Filings to include:
· Guardianship plan
· Report on respondent's condition
Filings to include:
· Inventory of the respondent's assets
· Plan on how resources will be allocated to meet respondent's needs
Notices Required by the Court
Courts should require advance notice of:
· Respondent's intended absence from the court's jurisdiction in excess of 30 days
· Any major anticipated change in the respondent's physical presence (residence)
Courts should require conservators to submit for court approval amended plans if there are any anticipated or real deviations from the approved plan.
Annual accountings or updates
The Standards suggest the contents of guardians and conservatorship reports.
Guardian Report Descriptive information on the respondent's condition, the services and care being provided to the respondent, significant actions taken by the guardian, and the expenses incurred by the guardian.
Conservator Report Statement of all available assets, the anticipated financial needs and expenses of the respondent, and the investment strategy and asset allocation to be pursued. The conservator should consider the purposes for which funds are to be managed, specify the services and care provided to the respondent and their costs, describe significant actions taken, and the expenses to date.
While annual updates are required by statute in nearly all states, courts have flexibility in terms of requiring more frequent updates and additional information in cases that may benefit from an increase in oversight.
Courts should have standardized forms that are readily available online. Ideally, forms should be available at the state level and be easily downloadable and fillable, such as those provided by the California Judicial Council (see probate forms) and the Minnesota Judicial Branch. In addition to standard forms, courts should consider requiring emergency plans and prospective care plans. Sample forms also can be found in the appendix of Guarding the Guardians: Promising Practices for Court Monitoring.