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High court approves guardianship reporting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Supreme Court on Wednesday announced its approval of new forms to require greater reporting from court-appointed guardians and conservators for incapacitated people.

Starting July 1, guardians and conservators must file additional information with the court about the welfare of the person under their care, including giving a breakdown of the person’s bank account balances, fees paid to care providers and fees paid to guardians and conservators who handle an incapacitated person’s finances.

The reports are still confidential by law, but judges will have greater discretion to share the information with family members or other interested parties.

Changes in rules and forms are part of the necessary improvements to the system mandated by a new state law passed earlier this year by the state Legislature.

The new legislation imposes bonding requirements on conservators to help safeguard a protected person’s assets, provides for open court hearings in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings that previously were closed, gives family members visitation rights and enhanced notification of court proceedings involving a person who is considered unable to manage their financial affairs or make decisions about their daily living.

Lawmakers approved a $1 million appropriation to help implement the new law.

The forms, which are filed after the initial 90 days of a guardianship and conservatorship and then annually, traditionally have been the only means by which judges cases can ascertain the welfare of an incapacitated person.

But state courts, while financially strapped, have been under pressure to increase oversight in light of scandals over the past year involving corporate guardians in New Mexico. Two Albuquerque firms that provided guardianship or conservatorship services have folded because of the criminal indictments of their top officials.

The new forms and information about guardianship system changes are available on the court’s website at: