There is a lot of negative publicity about professional guardians these days. Unfortunately, the media tends to focus on guardians who have “gone bad.”
Professional guardians have to protect their clients’ privacy so the success stories don’t get heard. So, did you know:
- Professional, or third party, guardians are the guardians of last resort? The Court always looks for the least restrictive solution when a guardianship petition is filed. First, the Guardian ad Litem (GAL), who investigates the guardianship petition for the Court, will try to find a family member or friend who is willing to be Power of Attorney. Yes, Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is less restrictive than a guardianship because the individual does not lose any civil rights. If a guardian is determined to be needed, the GAL will look for a family member or friend who may be willing to do it. Only when no other less restrictive alternative is found is a professional guardian appointed.
- A Professional guardian is to be an advocate for the incapacitated person. This is a requirement in the Certified Professional Guardian Standards of Practice. This job can be a challenge for a professional guardian because sometimes what the client wants isn’t a safe situation. A professional guardian works hard to tactfully explain the options available and, even when the client has his/her own option that may be worrisome, as long as it isn’t unsafe and the client can afford it the professional guardian needs to help the client give it a try.
- There is a grievance process if a Professional Guardian behaves badly. Sometimes a professional guardian may not be doing his or her job properly. Concerned people can file a grievance with the Certified Professional Guardian Board, who will research the matter. Prior to the development of a grievance process, filing a petition or motion with the Court was the only way to try to change the situation.
- Most guardianships where a professional guardian is appointed are due to the financial exploitation and/or abuse of the client. This is unfortunate but true. Other situations where a professional guardian is appointed may include individuals who have no family or friends to act as guardian; when family intervention has failed due to the individual(s) being fiercely independent and unwilling to entertain any options even though their current living situation is unsafe; individuals who have mental health issues or brain injuries that require a knowledge of behavior management techniques.