Among the new developments and significant changes produced by the 79th Texas Legislature is the creation of the new Guardianship Certification Board. The Board is created pursuant to Senate Bill 6 of the 2005 Session, and its purpose is to establish a certification process for individuals, other than volunteers, who serve as private professional guardians or provide guardianship services to a ward of a guardianship program.
The Board is composed of 15 total members ? 11 appointed by the Texas Supreme Court and 4 appointed by the Governor. The Supreme Court appointees are composed of attorneys and judges who work in the field of guardianships. The 4 appointees by the Governor will be ?public? members who are not necessarily lawyers. On March 6, 2006, the Supreme Court announced its 11 appointees, but the Governor has not yet announced the appointment of his public members.
Among its duties, the Board will be charged with the responsibility of determining the qualifications that a private guardian must meet for obtaining certification as a guardian. Once the certification criteria has been developed, the Board will consider applications from those interested in receiving certification, and the Board will issue certificates to those meeting the appropriate criteria. Although not clear yet, it appears that the Board will also consider complaints against those certified as guardians and will make determinations regarding continued certification of those guardians.
The creation of the Guardianship Certification Board marks a significant effort on the part of the legislature to ensure that institutions serving as guardians of elderly individuals meet minimum criteria in the care of those who cannot care of themselves. The Board?s primary goal is to establish these criteria for those who serve as private professional guardians. This is not, however, intended to create an additional layer of scrutiny for those family and friends who volunteer as guardians for the elderly.
With the Board set to meet for the first time in early May, 2006, those interested in Elder Law and Guardianships should watch for the forthcoming promulgation of criteria for private guardians.
Don D. Ford III is a partner with Ford+Bergner LLP, practicing in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Guardianship. He is a member of the editorial board of The Houston Lawyer magazine and is a Supreme Court appointee to the Guardianship Certification Board.
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