Guardians: How to Complete a Personal Status Report
When a Probate Court is presented with “clear and convincing” evidence that an adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions regarding his or her health or safety, the Court can remove certain rights from that person, making them a “Ward,” and appoint an individual as that person’s guardian. The guardian has the ability to exercise those rights removed from the Ward, which may include the right to establish residence and domicile for the Ward and consent to medical treatment. Viewed as legal measure of last resort, guardianships come into play only when less restrictive options have failed or no longer exist.
Because an individual’s fundamental rights have been removed, a probate court will oversee the guardianship as long as it exists to ensure the Ward’s safety and well-being.
To keep the Probate Court apprised of the status, condition, needs, and circumstances of the Ward, a guardian must file a Personal Status Report (PSR) with the court within 60 days of the date it issues the Letters of Guardianship (not the date of the Order establishing the guardianship) which authorizes the guardian to act on the Ward’s behalf. The PSR seeks information about the Ward’s general physical and mental condition, living situation, needs for assistance (i.e. housekeeping, personal care, etc.), and progress and development. In addition, the report requests information about future plans for the Ward, such as relocating the Ward to an assisted living or memory care facility or adding a specialist to the Ward’s healthcare team. Finally, the PSR is the place to document any emerging concerns the guardian has for the Ward and the steps that will be taken to resolve those issues.
After the first PSR is filed with the court, guardians must file a PSR 60 days from the anniversary of the date on which the Letters of Guardianship were issued. Guardians also must file interim updates as changes occur during the year, such as a change of address for the guardian or the Ward. We have also updated the court of unexpected significant events, such as when a Ward has been arrested or is being sent out of state for medical treatment.
While most probate forms are standardized statewide forms, the PSR varies from county to county. It is the guardian’s responsibility to keep track of the date that the PSR is due and to obtain a current copy of the PSF form from that county. Fortunately, probate courts increasingly provide copies of their PSR on the court’s webpage.
Points to Consider When Completing a PSR
Although these reports are straight-forward, sometimes the information that the PSR seeks is not obvious. For example, most PSRs request a summary of the Ward’s health needs, including information on conditions and medications. In asking for this summary, the court is not asking simply for a list of medications, dosages, and frequency of administration. The court wants to know what medical conditions the Ward has and how those conditions are being managed. Identifying the medications shows the court one aspect of the Ward’s overall medical treatment.
When preparing the PSR, be sure to follow up with any issues that were discussed at the hearing or that were raised in prior PSRs. For example, if you addressed the Ward’s ability to visit with family or attend religious services at the hearing, be sure to discuss the measures that have been taken to facilitate these visits. You should continue to address those issues in subsequent PSRs as long as the issue is ongoing.
Finally, don’t pass up the opportunity to share the Ward’s successes with the court, such as the Ward’s completion of an educational program, attending weekly movies at the assisted living facility, or joining a club. Include information about visits with family and friends. Like everyone else, a judge appreciates information that the Ward is living a productive, happy life despite adverse circumstances. These successes also give the judge confidence that she made the right decision when she appointed you as guardian.
Additional resources from Weinberg Elder Law for guardians include the following videos: