This article reviews recent literature, policies, and litigation concerning guardianship matters to analyze public and private guardianship programs across all 50 states. Special needs planners should consider that guardianship issues are rife with systemic inequities and inefficiencies. The authors conclude that planners must be aware of at least five possible pitfalls to best serve their clients: (1) There is a pressing need for improved government oversight of guardianship arrangements; (2) A full guardianship order can sometimes remove more rights than necessary; (3) Guardians can face conflicts of interest between their income and fiduciary duty; (4) Federal and state governments do not have comprehensive datasets to analyze guardianship matters in detail; and (5) Guardianship reform policies are stymied by insufficient government funding.
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, Michigan. 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 and department head 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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