Annual Meeting

Guardianship Bill of Rights for adults passes ABA House; 'it is needed'

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The ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution Monday urging all law and policymaking bodies to adopt the Guardianship Bill of Rights, which recognizes 21 rights for adults who have a guardian.

Speaking in support of Resolution 506 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Denver, Robyn Shapiro, the chair of the Commission on Law and Aging, said the bill of rights “is the first nationally recognized statement of such rights in this country.”

She added: “And it is needed because today we have pretty sparse legal protections for rights that are post-adjudication of the guardianship itself.”

In 2022, the National Guardianship Network—which includes the ABA Commission on Law and Aging and the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law—created the Guardianship Bill of Rights to serve as a model, according to the report that accompanies the resolution. It divides rights into three main areas: access-to-justice rights, core human rights and decision-making rights.

Some examples are:

  • The right to be present and participate in court.
  • The right to ask a court to review and possibly change a guardianship or guardian.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The right to personal privacy.
  • The right to fully participate in all decisions.
  • The right to receive necessary services.

The full list of all 21 rights is found here.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2023 ABA Annual Meeting here.

The National Guardianship Network convened the Fourth National Guardianship Summit in May 2021 and proposed 22 recommendations for guardianship reform. The first recommendation was to establish a task force to draft a model Guardianship Bill of Rights.

During the 2022 ABA Midyear Meeting, the House of Delegates adopted the recommendations of the Fourth National Guardianship Summit and encouraged all legislatures and policymakers to incorporate them when improving guardianship laws, policies and practices.

Resolution 506, which is sponsored by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the Commission on Law and Aging, and several other entities, also urges law and policymaking bodies to assure meaningful due process in guardianship cases.

That “is so important, of course, because guardianship removes or restricts the legal rights of a person,” Shapiro said. “That demands careful protection of due process.”

David English, a Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law representative to the House and immediate-past chair of the National Guardianship Network, also spoke in support of the measure. He encouraged his colleagues to remember the ABA has been active in guardianship reform for at least 40 years.

“Our approval today will let the ABA continue its advocacy efforts in the area of guardianship and in fact enhance those efforts,” he said.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Guardianship battles in the spotlight spark new calls for reform”

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