The First 90 Days: From Commission to Initial Report
Now that you have your Commission in hand you can start to make decisions for your ward the way the judge wants you to. The first 90 days after you received your Guardianship Commission are important since you are learning the rules of the law and become familiar with the requirements of the court AND you are also expected to find out how you can best care for your ward. At the end of those first 90 days you are expected to write your Initial Report to the court.
Since your job is limited to what the judge put in the original Order and Judgment you must keep this document handy so that you can refer to it any time you have a question. Some of the things you must do during the first 90 days after you have received your Commission are very general and some depend on whether you are a Guardian for Property Management or for Personal Needs, or both. You should follow the list below as you start your work as a guardian.
Start-Up Duties of All Guardians
As guardian, regardless of whether you are a guardian for Personal Needs or Property Management, you must:
- Visit your ward at least once during the first 90 days (the law requires you to visit at least four times per year)
- Attend a guardianship training program, which explains your responsibilities as guardian
- See whether you can find a will, living will, health care proxy or other contract created by your ward
- Determine what services and programs your ward needs
- Start making a plan for your ward’s care
- Set up a system to keep all documents and papers in a safe place
- Keep receipts of all payments you make for your ward
- At the end of the first 90 days you must submit your Initial Report to the court
How can I take care of my duties and also get ready to write the Initial Report?
Once you start to carry out your duties, it is wise to keep notes of everything you do on behalf of your ward. Many guardians buy a notebook for this purpose in which they write down what they have done for their ward, whom they have spoken with, the names of people and institutions they have contacted and their phone numbers and addresses. A good habit would be to write the date down for each activity you describe in your notebook – such notes to yourself are important reminders that you can use later when you start writing your Initial Report and the Annual Reports you are expected to submit in the following years.
When you visit your ward or when you undertake any task on behalf of your ward you should write down what you have done and for what purpose. When you visit your ward you should write some of your observations down. A Guardian for Personal Needs might ask for example:
- How well is your ward doing?
- Is he or she clean, well groomed, content?
- How well are his or her personal and medical needs addressed?
- Are there major changes in his or her condition for better or for worse?
- What additional services and medical care does your ward need?
- What appointments must be made for your ward.
- What questions you may have for your ward’s caregivers (doctors, nurses, homecare workers, therapists).
- The names, addresses and phone numbers of your ward’s doctors; social workers; homecare agencies; and other relevant information.
- A list of all medications your ward is currently taking, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications - include how often and how much each medication is taken.
In addition to keeping a notebook you should also get in the habit of keeping all important papers together in one place, starting with your Order and Judgment and everything else that you will receive from the court over time. Other important papers you must save in a safe place are the documents you may find in your ward’s home, such as: insurance papers, a will or testament, a health care proxy or living will, tax filings, contracts, and anything else you find among your ward’s papers. Some guardians use a large plastic container to keep all their documents in, others designate a drawer in a file cabinet they may have.
Guardians for Property Management also must keep all bank statements, invoices and receipts for money they spend either out of their own funds or out of their ward’s funds.
|NOTE: Having good notes and receipts and documents will make your task much easier in the long run when you must write your Initial and Annual Reports to the court about the actions you have taken on behalf of your ward.