Guardianship During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation and, as a guardian (or prospective guardian), you may have questions about your responsibilities and whether or not they have changed. The Maryland Judiciary’s full guidance on guardianship during COVID-19 can be accessed here, but some important takeaways are below;
Guardians Must Continue to Perform Their Duties
Even during the pandemic, you are expected to fulfill your responsibilities as a guardian in a timely manner. This includes filing annual reports of the person, inventory reports, and annual fiduciary accounting reports. There are also reports due within 60 days of your appointment, such as the initial inventory report, if you are a guardian of the property of a disabled person or minor.
Obtaining Permission from the Court
If you need an extension to fulfill your responsibilities, ask for the court’s permission. You must also obtain permission from the court before taking actions that are not authorized in the guardianship order. This includes consenting to certain medical procedures, and moving the person under guardianship to a different class of facility.
Notify the Court of Major Changes
If you become ill, need to quarantine, or any other circumstance arises that prevents you from performing your duties as guardian, you should notify the court. You should also notify the court if there are any significant changes to the health or living conditions of the person under guardianship.
Other general information about guardianship is available here.
Monitoring and Keeping in Touch
If the person under guardianship does not live in your care, try to stay in regular contact any way you can — whether by phone, text, video call, or email. If they are in a care facility, ask for staff assistance in overcoming any technological barriers to communicating with the person.
Depending on the living arrangements for the person under guardianship, they may not be able to have you visit them. It is especially important now to monitor and protect the person under guardianship. Get regular updates from staff, and ask them about the precautions and plans they have implemented to keep the person safe from COVID-19.
By Executive Order dated April 29, 2020, health care providers in Maryland must, among other things, evaluate each resident daily for COVID-19 symptoms and provide regular updates to residents and their representatives (including guardians). This includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice facilities, residential treatment facilities, home health agencies, and any related institutions. Make sure you are receiving these updates. If you believe the person under guardianship is not receiving proper care or is being neglected or abused, notify Adult Protective Services. If the person is in a long-term care facility, you can also contact the long term care ombudsman.
Contact an Experienced Guardianship Lawyer
For anyone that has been appointed as guardian of an adult or minor, the Maryland Judiciary has made clear that it is crucial to continue performing your duties. If you’re facing difficult circumstances in your guardianship of a person, or are unsure how to approach your situation, contact an attorney who is experienced with guardianship law. Bethany Shechtel, Esquire at BGS Law, LLC is approved for court appointments in guardianship proceedings, and can assist you with any questions you have.