Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – Feb. 2019
By Doris Beaver,
Welcome readers to another year of legislating down under the Gold Dome. With a new sheriff (a.k.a. Governor) in town and the Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives and in the Senate, it will no doubt be quite a different show this year.
Senate Bill 19-072:
SB 072 applies to all citizens of Colorado, not just Seniors, but Colorado’s “graying population” is probably in the most need of the protection offered by SB 072.
Titled “Establishing A Bill of Rights For Persons Protected Through Guardianship,” SB 072 defines a “protected person” as a person for whom a guardian has been appointed. SB 072 does not address evaluation or determination when or if a person needs a guardian, but does state a “proposed protected person has the right to have an attorney to ask the court for relief before a guardianship is imposed.”
The additional rights set forth in the bill as introduced include:
1) have an attorney at anytime during a guardianship to ask the court for relief;
2) receive notice of all guardianship proceedings and all proceedings relating to a determination of capacity, unless the court determines that the protected person lacks the capacity to comprehend such notice;
3) have a family member, an interested party or a medical provider speak or raise any issues of concern on the protected person’s behalf during a court hearing, either orally or in writing, including but not limited to issues relating to a conflict with a guardian;
4) be educated about guardianships and ask questions and express concerns and complaints, either orally or in writing, about the protected person’s guardian and the guardian’s actions;
5) participate in developing a plan for his or her care, including but not limited to a plan for managing his or her assets and personal property, determining residence and manner of receiving services;
6) be given due consideration to his or her current and previously stated personal desires, preferences for health care, medical treatment, religious and moral beliefs;
7) remain as independent as possible, including but not limited to having his or her preferences honored regarding residence and standard of living either as expressed or demonstrated before a determination was made relating to capacity or as currently expressed if such preference is reasonable under the circumstances;
8) be granted the greatest degree of freedom possible, consistent with the reason for guardianship, and exercise control of all aspects of his or her life that are not specifically delegated to a guardian by a court order;
9) engage in any activity that the court has not expressly reserved for his or her guardian, including but not limited to voting, marrying or entering into a civil union, traveling, working and having a driver’s license;
10) receive telephone calls and personal mail and have visitors, unless his or her guardian and the court determine that particular correspondence or a particular visitor will harm the protected person;
11) receive timely, effective and appropriate health care and medical treatment that does not violate his or her rights;
12) have all services provided by a guardian at a reasonable rate of compensation and have a court review any requests for payment to avoid excessive or unnecessary fees or duplicate billing;
13) receive prudent financial management of his or her property and assets, including but not limited to regular detailed reports of financial accounting, investments or trusts that are held for his or her benefit, and a reporting of any expenditures or fees charged to his or her estate; and
14) receive and control his or her salary, maintain a bank account and manage his or her personal money.
SB 072 also provides for the court to review the guardian’s management activity if a dispute cannot be resolved, review the need for a guardianship or modify or terminate a guardian ship, replace his or her guardian or enter an order restoring his or her capacity at the earliest possible time.
A protected person’s rights do not abrogate any remedies provided by law, and such rights may be addressed in a guardianship proceeding or be enforced through a private right of action.
SB 072 provides that each court in the state shall make the bill of rights readily available to the public, maintain a copy available for reproduction and distribution to the public, and set forth criteria for posting of said bill of rights.
Doris Beaver is a free lance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com , or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.