If you serve as a guardian of an incapacitated person (“IP”) in Pennsylvania, you should be aware of some recent changes to this area of the law which were designed to protect IPs from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
First, Pennsylvania created a statewide guardianship tracking system (“GTS”) which has been implemented in the Lancaster County Orphans’ Court and all other counties in the Commonwealth as of December 31, 2018. The GTS provides a method for guardians to file inventories and annual reports online. It allows Orphans’ Court staff to track guardians’ compliance with mandatory reporting requirements, and it has the capacity to “flag” a report if the system detects a concern of loss. Guardians and attorneys of record in guardianship matters must establish an account with the GTS and can only obtain information about the cases in which they are involved. The GTS is accessed through the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Web Portal at https://ujsportal.pacourts.us. When a guardian logs on to the GTS, they can see a list of upcoming and overdue reports. They can fill in information for annual reports throughout the year, save the information as they go, and then file the reports when they are due. Guardians should speak with their attorney or their local Orphans’ Court if they do not have computer access to determine how to file reports moving forward.
Second, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted the following new guardianship forms for guardians of IPs which became effective for all new filings as of July 1, 2018: the Report of the Guardian of the Estate (Form G-02); the Report of the Guardian of the Person (Form G-03); and the Guardian’s Inventory for an Incapacitated Person (Form G-05). These forms are available at: http://www.pacourts.us/forms/for-the-public/orphans-court-forms. The new forms require more detailed information from guardians. The Report of the Guardian of the Estate requires not only the total amount of income earned by an IP, but all sources of income, all annual expenses and their source, and where all assets are held. Guardians must identify whether any judgments have been filed against them, whether they have filed a bankruptcy petition, and whether they have been charged with or convicted of a crime. The Report of the Guardian of the Person requires the guardian to identify whether the IP has received a mental health assessment, whether the guardian has participated in any guardianship training, and whether a Protection from Abuse Order or Protection from Sexual Violence or Intimidation Order was entered against the guardian. In the new inventory, guardians must state whether any applications for government benefits have been submitted, describe all real estate in the estate and how it will be maintained or sold, and identify whether or not the IP executed a durable power of attorney for health care or some other health care directive while still capacitated. Guardians should review the new forms so they are keeping track of all of the information they will need to submit at the end of their reporting period.
This article was written by Jill M. Laskowitz, Esq. Jill is a litigation attorney who represents individuals, families and businesses in matters ranging from guardianship actions and family law to commercial litigation. She also practices in the area of municipal law. If you have any questions about this topic, please contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-509-7261.