New court rule expedites guardianship process in certain cases

Posted at 3:33 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 18:48:53-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A new court rule is changing the guardianship process.

Guardians help make personal and financial decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to manage those matters on their own. The legal status is designed to protect vulnerable Marylanders, however, obtaining the designation could take several months, depending on your jurisdiction.

Estate planning attorneys often see situations where this lengthy process is problematic. Their client has a parent, most often times with dementia, who did not sign a medical directive or power of attorney document, and they've gotten to the point where they don't have the competency to do so.

"Without those documents, their hands are tied and nobody has the authority to act on their behalf," said Nicole Hewitt, an estate planning attorney. "And a lot happens in 3-6 months. A parent can decline during that time, and you're kind of helpless in your ability to help them."

A new amendment, effective January 1st of this year, should improve that process.

It used to be that you could only ask for an expedited guardianship hearing if there was an emergency situation where there was a risk of immediate harm, now you can request an expedited hearing in non-emergency situations but where there is concern for the medical treatment of an individual.

To see the new procedure and read about other court changes, click here.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii also spoke with Hewitt about estate planning -- the importance of having the tough conversations now, and how it can save you time, money, even relationships and avoid a legal nightmare.

See those answers here: Protecting your assets: Estate planning attorney explains why a will is not enough