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Protecting Vulnerable Adults: Oversight and Screening of Court-Appointed Guardians

Testimony by PPI’s Naomi Karp before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts

Guardianship is a powerful legal tool that can bring good or ill for an increasing number of vulnerable adults.  It provides necessary decision-makers for people with diminished capacity, and protects them from abuse—yet it also removes fundamental rights and may increase opportunities for abuse of the very people it is meant to protect. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts convened a hearing on September 22, 2011 to explore the state court guardianship process—and needed protections for older adults under guardianship.  Naomi Karp’s testimony on behalf of AARP includes:

  • The reasons for increasing numbers of guardianship appointments
  • The prevalence of elder abuse and the vulnerability of older people with diminished capacity
  • The urgent need for court monitoring to prevent, detect and redress abuse by guardians
  • Findings from a two-year PPI study on guardianship monitoring
  • E-filing systems—a promising practice for financial oversight
  • Criminal background check screening of proposed guardians
  • GAO recommendations relying on AARP study findings.

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