News Release, Maryland Judiciary
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Recent changes to the Maryland Rules of Procedure, which took effect at the beginning of the year, protect the rights and interests of people under guardianship. The rules clarify the role of attorneys representing a person suspected of needing a guardian, overhaul how courts monitor people and property under guardianship and protect the privacy of people under guardianship.
Guardians are appointed by a court to make personal or financial decisions on behalf of a person who is unable to manage those matters because of age, disease, or disability.
“The Judiciary is committed to safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable Marylanders whose matters bring them before our courts,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “These refinements to guardianship procedures will help to protect the safety and well-being of people and their assets under guardianship and ensure attorneys fulfill their ethical obligations in guardianship matters.”
The rules changes were included in the 201st report of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure , known as the Rules Committee. Unanimously adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals, the changes went into effect Jan. 1.
The Guardianship and Vulnerable Adults Work Group, part of the Maryland Judicial Council’s Domestic Law Committee, made recommendations for changes to the rules to the Standing Committee. The Work Group’s focus has been to develop recommendations to strengthen safeguards for persons under guardianship, expand the use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in guardianship matters, promote case management best practices, improve court processes, and develop new resources for guardians.
“These latest changes improve how guardians report to the court on the well-being of persons and assets under guardianship,” said Judge Karen Murphy Jensen (Ret.), chair of the workgroup. “Records in guardianship cases are replete with financial, medical, and psychological information, and the newest rules limit the public’s access to sensitive information that could be used to exploit persons under guardianship or cause further loss of privacy.”
The Maryland Judiciary website has a dedicated webpage on Maryland guardianships with information and resources, including orientation and training programs for guardians, a series of videos, and new forms at: http://www.mdcourts.gov/family/guardianship/courtappointedguardians.html.