State Rep. Douglas Wozniak today unveiled legislation to better protect senior citizens and developmentally disabled residents by creating the state’s first-ever certification process for court-appointed guardians and conservators.
House Bills 4171-72 require anyone serving as a guardian or conservator to successfully pass the National Center for Guardianship Certification exam, consent to a criminal background check and meet other minimum standards. Guardians or conservators are appointed by the court to make healthcare or financial decisions for anyone unable to make these decisions due to an injury, illness, or disability.
“Guardians and conservators play an immensely important role in our state’s social safety net, and we must ensure they have the highest degree of professionalism and integrity,” said Wozniak, R-Shelby Township. “They have considerable power over the people they are appointed to protect. The state can significantly reduce the chances of abuse and fraud by ensuring that criminals are not caring for our elderly and developmentally disabled loved ones.”
In 2020, a court-appointed Mason County guardian was charged by the Attorney General’s Office for abusing her authority and embezzling from 11 vulnerable adults under her care.
Wozniak, a longtime advocate for the protection of senior citizens from abuse and fraud, said approximately 15 states already require some level of licensure, registration or certification for people serving as guardians or conservators.
“The overwhelming majority of guardians and conservators in Michigan provide excellent care for vulnerable adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves,” Wozniak said. “But due to the nature of their roles, it makes sense to enact a set of professional standards that ensures the best care possible for everyone.”
Wozniak is sponsoring the legislation with Rep. Curt VanderWall. HBs 4171-72 now go to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
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“As an attorney who spent many years representing the interests the elderly, the vulnerable and the infirm in Macomb County’s Probate Court, I know firsthand how hard the judges and staff of our court work to ensure hearings are held in a timely manner,” Wozniak said during his testimony. “But with only two judges on the bench, it’s not been easy for them to do.”