MAKING SCHOOL GUARDIANSHIPS LESS BURDENSOME

May 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Guardianships of the person are a pretty common phenomenon in these parts, as they are, I am sure, wherever you might be. I call them “school guadianships,” because that’s what they traditionally were used for — to get children into particular schools, ordinarily via grandparents — within the tolerance of the school district involved.

As it stands now, MCA 93-13-38 requires a guardianship of the person to observe all of the same formalities as an estate, including notice to creditors, probate of claims, accountings, and so on, even though there is no estate whatsoever.

That’s going to change, effective July 1, 2013. HB 725, sheparded through by Rep. Greg Snowden, changed the statute to provide that:

“The requirements in a guardianship of the person are modified to the extent that notice to creditors is not required, reports will be made only as often as the court requires, and the guardianship may be closed without the need for any accounting unless otherwise determined by the court. Any assets that are received shall be reported immediately and at that point the guardianship shall be deemed to be a guardianship of the personand estate and all requirements for guardianship of the person and estate shall be followed.”

This is a welcome clarification and simplification. In this district we have been requiring reports every other year. The report is a simple, two-sentence statement that: (1) the guardianship is still necessary; and (2) no assets have come into the guardianship. We have found that eventually the ward reaches majority, and the lawyer files a report asking to close as no longer necessary. When I took office I found guardianships of the person that were as much as 25 years old that had never been closed. There’s no good reason for that. I asked Rep. Snowden to address this, and he did an effective job.

We have significant number of these, some of which should probably be converted to Special General Guardianships after those become effective July 1, 2013. Despite my “school guardianship” label, most nowadays involve grandparents taking grandchildren to raise, and needing a guardianship to obtain medical care, enroll in school, etc.

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