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AG Nessel Applauds Committee Vote on Guardianship Bills
October 11, 2023
HB 4909-12 would institute long-awaited reforms to Michigan’s guardianship statutes, and HB 5047 would create the Office of State Guardian. This legislation has been long-championed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
“These guardrails are necessary to protect some of Michigan's most vulnerable residents” said Nessel. “These reforms have been recommended time and time again, first by the Michigan Supreme Court in 1998, by then-Governor Granholm in 2007, and again just last term - with no movement. Michigan’s elderly residents don’t have time to wait for these protections to be signed into law and I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for recognizing this and advancing this critical legislation.”
This bi-partisan legislative package will:
- Require a judge to justify on the record why a family member who is willing to serve as a guardian is not suitable. While the law already provides that family members have priority, the modification serves as an additional safeguard to ensure family members get due consideration;
- Eliminate a judge’s ability to prevent a challenge to an appointed guardianship/conservatorship for up to six months;
- Require guardian and conservator certification and visitation frequency;
- Establish a clear asset/income threshold for appointment of a conservator;
- Set standards for the Guardian ad Litem report to the court;
- Protect personal items of sentimental value from being discarded;
- Establish a right to attorney throughout the proceedings;
- Establish additional protections for individuals before removing them from their homes;
- Improve the basic standard for medical testimony; and more.
In addition to support by the Department of Attorney General, the bills are also supported by Disability Rights Michigan, the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, AARP, Alzheimer's Association, and The Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.
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.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse each year. 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.