Guardianships may be necessary when an elderly person is no longer able to care for themselves and has not planned ahead by the preparation of Powers of Attorney. Prior posts have discussed how the Orphans’ Court may appoint a Guardian of the Person to make medical or placement decisions and a Guardian of the Estate to manage their finances. Whatever the reason, when someone agrees to take on the guardianship of a loved one, it brings on certain duties and responsibilities.

One of these responsibilities is to file an Annual Report of the steps taken by the guardian to ensure that appropriate care is being taken of the incapacitated person or ward and their assets. The Report of the Guardian of the Person includes information about where the ward is living,  medical care and visits by the guardian.  When the guardian is also managing the finances, the Annual Report must also provide an account of what has been done with the ward’s money. Where previously these reports were mailed or brought to the county’s Orphans’ Court for review, they must now be uploaded online in Pennsylvania beginning at the end of August, 2018.

The new rules were put in place to help prevent elder abuse. The Annual Reports help make it possible to track how well a guardian is doing his, her or its job.  The information can allow a judge or the staff of the Guardianship Department to review the guardian’s actions or to decide about whether the individual, financial institution or agency should continue to act as a guardian. It will also make it more difficult for a guardian who has been removed from a case or cases to go to another county or state and continue to be appointed as a guardian. Lastly, the system will also ensure that the necessary reports are being filed.

Knowing what one’s obligations are as a guardian is important to ensure that the incapacitated individuals are protected and provided appropriate care.  Someone who is considering becoming a guardian or appointing a guardian may want to speak to an experienced elder law attorney to learn about the process and what the recent rules on guardianships.