Digitizing Guardianships and Conservatorships
The Oakland County Probate Court has seen a steady increase in the number of open guardianship and conservatorship files. A guardianship and or a conservatorship becomes necessary when a person becomes incapacitated in some way and is no longer able to take care of their own affairs.
Here is Michigan's legal definition of an incapacitated individual as set forth in the probate code known as EPIC [Estates and Protected Individuals Code]:
Incapacitated individual means an individual who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or other cause, not including minority, to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate informed decisions.The affairs to which a fiduciary must attend are varied and often unlimited. Tasks include paying bills, managing income, benefits and services, keeping the ward within a budget, administering medication, maintaining a safe residence, accounting for all income and expenses in the process to the probate court, and many of the other of life's routine yet collateral matters. Since April, a guardian can also be called upon to execute a DNR for the ward.
Guardianships involve the incapacitated individual's medical issues and living arrangements, while a conservatorship is for the marshaling and conserving the individual's assets.
As one of 8 Public Administrators taking direct probate court appointments, my office staff and I manage over 100 fiduciary accounts. While it is not rocket-science from a legal perspective [although every case is different], it is very challenging to keep track of more than 100 lives, serving as professional fiduciary and overall substitute decision maker.
Our office has implemented and trained on a software tool we learned about at a recent annual meeting of the Michigan Guardianship Association. This software allows us to input and manage our ward's vital information in an organized efficient and digitized fashion; vital information at our fingertips needed to prosecute that fast-paced probate docket.
Our associates do not need to leave their work stations to retrieve a physical file, although, sadly, those files are still with us; we're not paperless yet, just paper redux. We can quickly and efficiently retrieve information from our database that a hospital or doctor needs to complete an important, sometimes critical, procedure for one of our wards.
We can monitor the constantly changing details of the wards' health; of their living situation; and their physical needs. Despite our recently accomplished digitization, we here at Clarkston Legal are mindful that our most important task is the face-to-face contact maintained with our wards.
If you have a loved one, family member or friend that is in need of fiduciary protection and would like to learn more about the process, consider contacting our office for a free consultation. Our associates Beth Schlosser and Christopher Kelly are ready to assist.