AARP Connecticut praises state legislators on the passage of Senate Bill 976, An Act Concerning Conservatorship Accountability, on May 11, 2017. AARP Connecticut also congratulates the Probate Court Administrator for putting forward the proposal and engaging stakeholder support. The bill will improve Connecticut’s adult guardianship system and help protect vulnerable individuals from financial exploitation.

“We applaud legislative leaders for their commitment to a bill that provides probate courts with the critical tools necessary for effective oversight and to deter financial malfeasance or elder abuse,” said Nora Duncan, AARP Connecticut state director. “We thank the bipartisan leadership of the Judiciary Committee and broad coalition of supporters for their hard work and encourage Governor Malloy sign the bill to position Connecticut as a leader in effective adult guardianship.”

Rep. William Tong (D-Stamford), the House chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, added, “This legislation implements critical financial security measures for our most vulnerable citizens and neighbors. We must make sure conservators, who occupy tremendous positions of trust and authority, are held to highest ethical and fiduciary standards when caring for the financial being of another person, and this legislation accomplishes that goal.”

Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim said, “This proposal is not an expression of dissatisfaction with the thousands of individuals who serve as conservators in our state. Rather, the bill recognizes the huge responsibility we impose on conservators and the need to provide them with better support and guidance. It also confronts the unfortunate reality that seniors with dementia and persons with disabilities are highly vulnerable to financial exploitation.”

As part of the bill, S.B 976 would introduce formal standards and guidelines for conservators that address key ethical principles, guidelines on fiduciary duties, rights of conserved individuals and best practices for handing various situations that arise in adult guardianship. These guidelines will help all conservators fulfill their duty, especially family caregivers who might not have a legal background. It will also allow for random audits – conducted by an independent auditor – of financial accounting conservators prepare and submit to the court.

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