Changes to Maryland’s guardianship rules go into effect go into effect Monday more than two years after a work group was formed to make recommendations on how to improve the process and ensure best practices are employed.
The changes include new certification requirements to be completed by doctors and social workers; new training and eligibility requirements for attorneys appointed to represent subjects of guardianship proceedings; and new orientation and training requirements for guardians, according to the Maryland Judiciary. The rules were amended to clarify they apply to guardianships of minors created in circuit and orphans’ courts.
“The Judiciary is committed to protecting the rights of older Marylanders and vulnerable children and adults whose matters bring them before our courts,” Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera said in a statement. “The changes to the rules will help prevent neglect, abuse and financial exploitation.”
The work group, formed in 2015, issued a report and recommendations in May 2016. The changes were adopted in a rules order in October.
All prospective guardians will have to watch a nine-minute orientation video before being appointed then receive training within 120 days of appointment for guardians of individuals and 60 days for guardians of property. The training programs are offered online and in person through some courts.
Attorneys appointed as guardians of minors or disabled people must also watch an additional video about ethical considerations if they have no prior relationship to the individual. The video focuses on the ethics rules pertaining to clients with diminished capacity, which requires assessing the person’s limitations and ability to give informed consent.
“Whenever possible, make decisions that maintain the autonomy of the person under guardianship,” the video states. “Commit the necessary time and resources to meet the personal and financial needs of the person under guardianship.”
The new rules also establish qualification for an attorney’s appointment, including being a member in good standing of the state bar, providing evidence of financial responsibility and guardianship training.
A new section on the Maryland Judiciary website contains information and links to orientations, training and forms.