Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

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Professional Guardian Standards of Practice

Posted Friday, October 4, 2013 by John S. Palmer

The Certified Professional Guardian Board will meet on October 14 to discuss proposed changes to the Standards of Practice for Certified Professional Guardian in Washington State.

Among the changes being discussed is a brand new regulation, SOP 413, which would prohibit an individual professional guardian from working for or having an ownership interest in a professional guardianship agency if a non-guardian is the majority owner or has the right to direct or control the judgment of the professional guardian. This regulation would be similar to the rules imposed on doctors and lawyers, who typically may form professional associations so long as only properly licensed professionals are in a position to make any decisions requiring a license to practice medicine or law. This new regulation would also clarify that a professional guardian is bound by the Standards of Practice even when acting at the direction of a superior; require guardianship agencies to adopt measures ensuring that individual guardians employed by an agency conform to the Standards of Practice; and spell out when a certified professional guardian is liable for breaches of the practice standards by an employee. It would also include provisions limiting a professional guardian’s ability to share fees with a non-guardian.

The Board is also considering substantial revisions to the disciplinary regulations for professional guardians that would create a disciplinary committee; adopt formal procedural rules for disciplinary proceedings; and expand the grounds for disciplinary action. Currently, a professional guardian’s license may be suspended or revoked on such grounds as failing to perform a required duty, making a false statement under oath, persistent or repeated violations of the standards of practice, or committing certain crimes (whether or not a conviction results). The revisions being considered would add incompetence and failure to appear for a scheduled court proceeding without good cause as grounds for discipline. They would also permit grievances or complaints to be resolved by a written settlement agreement, and allow a guardian to be disciplined for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of such an agreement.

All guardians in Washington, whether lay or professional, must appoint a standby guardian. The Board is considering changes to SOP 401.6 to require a certified professional guardian to appoint only another certified professional guardian as their standby guardian, and require all professional guardians to ensure that their standby has access to records and information needed to address the needs of the incapacitated person in the event of the primary professional guardian’s absence.

Finally, SOP 404.3 currently requires a certified professional guardian to personally make the initial in-person visit to the incapacitated person they are caring for, and then personally re-visit that person every 3 months, unless otherwise directed by the court. Additional in-person visits may be delegated to an employee, independent contractor, or any individual approved by the court. The Board is considering an amendment to clarify that these requirements apply to professional guardianship agencies, not just individual professional guardians.

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Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056