This article contains a 50-state review of recent laws, legislation, and literature concerning public and private guardianship programs across the United States. The authors found that financial planners should consider four key questions regarding the law in the client’s home state when analyzing whether a guardianship will best serve a client’s needs: (1) How does state law determine whether a guardianship is necessary?; (2) What are the legal decision-making standards for guardians in the state—importantly, to what degree, if any, must a guardian defer to the wishes of an individual subject to guardianship?; (3) How does state law determine whether a guardian is qualified to provide care?; (4) Has state law adopted the protections of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA)? Special needs planners must be keenly aware of these issues to help clients make well-informed decisions in guardianship matters.
Author: Annemarie M. Kelly, JD, LLM, is a practicing attorney and assistant professor in the department of health administration for the College of Health and Human Services at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She formerly worked as a compliance officer and state administrative manager serving the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Lansing. Ms. Kelly’s research is focused on special needs financial planning, disability policy, business regulatory compliance, and health care informatics.
Author: Lewis B. Hershey, PhD, MA, is a professor of marketing in the department of marketing, business law, and supply chain management for the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He was formerly a financial advisor with American Express and Prudential. A 2009 Paul Mills Scholar, he serves on the Society of Financial Service Professionals’ University Partners Program Committee.
Author: Christina N. Marsack-Topolewski, PhD, LMSW, is an assistant professor in the school of social work for the College of Health and Human Services at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Formerly a special education teacher in public school systems, she still serves as a teacher consultant to help support students with special needs and their families. Her research is focused on understanding the needs, experiences, and service delivery systems for caregivers of individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Marsack-Topolewski is a coinvestigator on the Michigan Older Caregivers of Emerging Adults with Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (MI-OCEAN) Family Support Project. As an appointee to the National Task Group (NTG) for Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Care Practices, she currently serves on the NTG Steering Committee.
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