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AG Nessel on Elder Abuse Task Force Recommendations, Guardianship Reforms in State Senate
April 12, 2023
LANSING – This week, legislation was formally introduced to reform the states guardianship laws, many of the included policies being remedies prescribed by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Elder Abuse Task Force, after introduction by several state Senators.
“I am encouraged to see, and obviously supportive of, legislation to bring about the specific policy recommendations of the Elder Abuse Task Force,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “Many of these proposed changes to the state's guardianship laws come directly from the incredible work of the Task Force, and we’ll be working with the legislature to enact those recommendations we see in these bills, as well as working to ensure the rest of the package reflects and respects the recommendations put forth by the experts.”
The specific recommendations of the Elder Abuse Task Force, proposed in Senate Bills 258 and 254, include:
- Requiring a judge to justify on the record why a family member who is willing to serve as legal guardian is not suitable;
- Eliminating a judge’s ability to preclude a challenge to the appointment of a guardianship/conservatorship for up to six months;
- Creating a requirement for guardians and conservators to be certified and require monthly check-ins of their protected persons;
- More thoroughly outlining guardian ad litem responsibilities;
- Establishing a clear asset/income threshold for appointment of a conservator;
- Improving the basic standards for medical testimony; and
- Requiring guardians to identify and list protected person’s specific sentimental items and provide a list to an interested person upon request.
Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force launched in 2019 and consists of more than 55 different organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sections - all working together to combat elder abuse. The more than 100 individuals on the Task Force are divided into seven committees working diligently to accomplish nine initiatives. Achievements include the adoption of a Vulnerable Adult Incident Report form for investigations by law enforcement across the state, including the implementation of related trainings. In addition to the vulnerable adult incident report and associated trainings, the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act was passed that ensures mandated reporting for financial institutions on suspected fraud or exploitation and was part of the Task Force’s First Set of Initiatives.
More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse. They experience abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Michigan residents seeking elder abuse resources are encouraged to call 800-24-ABUSE (22873), or 855-444-3911 to report suspected elder abuse.