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OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN
Policies, Procedures and Rules 

Preface:

The Public Guardian shall develop rules and regulations in compliance with the Administrative Adjudication Law. 7 GCA § 3112 (f). It is the purpose of this document to provide a statement of policies, procedures and rules which will enable and foster quality guardianship services for adults who are incompetent and unable to manage their own affairs, and services which are supportive of them, their family and friends. These policies, procedures and rules are dynamic and can be amended from time to time, in order to enable and foster quality services.

These policies, procedures and rules were initially developed after almost two years of operation of the Office of Public Guardian and, therefore, reflect the acquired experience of the Public Guardian and the greatly appreciated input of three Chief Justices, Associate Justices, and staff of the Supreme Court of Guam, members of the Public Guardian Review Board, and staff and volunteers of the Office of the Public Guardian.

  1. History/Background
    • The Office of the Public Guardian was established by Guam law at 7 GCA § 3112, as amended (P.L. 25-103; 26-64 and 26-112) (hereafter, the Public Guardian Act). The legislative intent of the Public Guardian Act is to establish an Office of the Public Guardian within the Supreme Court of Guam for the purpose of furnishing guardianship services to adults at reduced or no cost where appropriate, and to promote the general welfare by permitting individuals who have a guardian appointed to participate as fully as possible in all decisions that affect the individual. In January 2001, Chief Justice Benjamin J.F. Cruz appointed the first Public Guardian for the Territory of Guam, and the Office of the Public Guardian opened on February 19, 2001. 
  2. Statutory Duties of the Office of the Public Guardian
    • The Public Guardian Act states the duties of the Public Guardian.
      1. The Public Guardian shall serve as guardian, limited guardian, testamentary guardian or temporary guardian of the person or estate of an incompetent adult when so appointed by the Superior Court of Guam for individuals who have no relatives or friends willing and able to act as guardian.
      2. The Public Guardian shall assist the Court, as the Court may request or direct, in proceedings for the appointment of a guardian of the person and in supervision of persons, corporations or agencies which have been appointed as guardians of the person 7 GCA § 3112(a)(2).
      3. The Public Guardian shall advise and assist persons, corporations, and agencies which are seeking appointment as a guardian for an incompetent person. 7 GCA § 3112(a)(4).
      4. The Public Guardian shall provide advice, information and guidance to the persons, corporations or agencies who have been appointed as guardian of the person to assist them in discharge of their duties. 7 GCA § 3112(a)(4).
      5. The Public Guardian may offer guidance and counsel to those persons who request such assistance or to those on whose behalf it is requested for the purpose of encouraging maximum self-reliance and independence of such persons, and avoid the need for appointment of a guardian. 7 GCA § 3112(a)(5).
      6. The Public Guardian shall develop programs of public education on guardianship and alternatives to guardianship and encourage the development of private guardians able and willing to serve as guardian of the person. 7 GCA § 3112(a)(6).

II. A. Rule: Pursuant to these rules, the Public Guardian may file a petition in a guardianship proceeding, requesting to intervene in that proceeding, for the purpose of providing the Court information that could lead to a request or direction from the Court, to the Public Guardian, to provide supervision of persons, corporations or agencies which have been appointed as guardian of the person.

III. Administrative Policy

  • The Public Guardian is appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the Chief Justice. 
    7 GCA § 3112.

  • Personnel 
    The Office of the Public Guardian and its personnel shall comply with the Guam Judiciary Personnel Rules and Regulations (adopted July 26, 1996), and applied under direction of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

  • Drug Free Workplace Policy
    The Office of the Public Guardian and its personnel shall comply with Executive Order No. 95-29 relative to adopting and promulgating a comprehensive Drug Free Workplace policy, and with the Drug-Free Workplace Program of the Department of Administration, Government of Guam, dated December 5, 1995, and applied under direction of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

  • Sexual Harassment Policy
    The Office of the Public Guardian adopts the Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure, found in the Memorandum from the Administrative Director, Superior Court of Guam, dated January 4, 1996, and the attachment thereto, and applied under direction of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

  • Procurement
    The Office of the Public Guardian adopts the Supreme Court of Guam Procurement Regulations, Promulgation Order No. 02-001, dated January 9, 2002.

  • Travel
    The Office of the Public Guardian adopts the Supreme Court of Guam Travel Rules and Regulations, Promulgation Order No. 02-002, dated January 9, 2002.

  • Whenever the Supreme Court amends the above-mentioned administrative rules and
    regulations, or adopts new administrative rules and regulations, such amendments or adoptions shall automatically be adopted by the Office of the Public Guardian. 

 

IV. Volunteers

The Office of the Public Guardian is authorized to recruit, train and utilize volunteers in a carefully planned and supervised manner, pursuant to 7 GCA § 3112 (j) and (k):

A. The Public Guardian is responsible to recruit, accept, train and supervise volunteers. Prospective volunteers shall complete an application which will establish the education, experience, skills and other personal data of the applicant. An applicant shall submit a police clearance and a court clearance with the application.

B. A Volunteer Services Agreement shall be executed between the Office of the Public Guardian and the volunteer which states the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both the volunteer and the Office of the Public Guardian.

C. Volunteers are expected to perform their duties and responsibilities in a professional manner. The demeanor of the volunteer should reflect the nature of the Office of the Public Guardian and of the Supreme Court of Guam.

D. Volunteers are bound to maintain information acquired in the capacity of volunteer, about any person who is a ward, a client or subject of an application for services to the Office of the Public Guardian, in a confidential manner as specifically set out in the Confidentiality Pledge and the Volunteer Services Agreement. Volunteers shall read and sign the Confidentiality Pledge.

E. Volunteers shall comply with the Policies, Procedures and Rules of the Office of the Public Guardian.

F. Volunteers are expected to use common sense in choice of clothing, and are to dress in a professional manner.

G. Volunteers will assist the Office of the Public Guardian in maintaining a record of the time spent in voluntary service to the office.

V. Case Management Procedures

A. Referrals
Referrals are received from individuals and families, service providers, physicians and other health care providers, non-profit organizations and the community at large. Referrals are accepted by telephone, fax, walk-ins, by appointment, and in person. A referral form shall be developed and approved by the Public Guardian, and may be revised as necessary. 

Each referral is documented on a referral form, dated and numbered sequentially. 

Referrals shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be responded to within five working days, by conducting an intake assessment.

Referrals will involve adults who are elderly, ill, or with disability, and key people associated with the adult to include family members, friends, neighbors, physicians and other health care providers and service providers. This is the client group.

B. Intake
Intake involves the gathering of relevant information from members of the client group in order to initiate and complete an assessment of the referral and determine its status.

C. Assessment
Two distinct types of assessments may occur as the result of a referral.

1. An intake assessment shall be completed of each referral, determining whether or not the referral falls within one of the statutory duties of the Office of the Public Guardian (Section II, above) and which of the statutory duties applies to the referral, and setting out a brief written description of the services to be provided.

An intake assessment shall be conducted by, or under the direction of, the Public Guardian.
The referral form shall be completed to indicate the results of the assessment. 

2. A competency assessment may be conducted by the Public Guardian, of a referred individual, to determine whether evidence exists to assert that the individual is incompetent (and, therefore, may need appointment of a guardian) as defined in 15 GCA § 3801. 

This assessment is comprised of two parts. First, it requires acquiring a written statement from a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist which contains:

a. A diagnosis of the individual, and

b An opinion as to whether the individual can give informed consent to receive treatment.

 

Second, it requires the completion of an individualized functional assessment of the individual by the Public Guardian, with the assistance of members of the client group. The individualized functional assessment will usually utilize a standardized instrument designed for this purpose which is acceptable to the Public Guardian.

D. Services and Disposition

The Public Guardian will provide services to referred individuals when, after intake assessment, it is determined that the matter presented comprises one of the statutory duties of the Office of Public Guardian (Section II, above). The following services may be provided.

1. The Public Guardian may petition the Superior Court of Guam, nominating the Public Guardian to become guardian of the person and/or the estate of a qualified adult, and fulfill all subsequent responsibilities commensurate with this personal, legal responsibility if appointed guardian by the Superior Court.

2. The Public Guardian may petition the Superior Court, nominating a family member or friend to become the guardian of the person and/or the estate of a qualified adult, and complete all work required to acquire a court determination concerning appointment of a guardian.

The Office of the Public Guardian may pursue a guardianship in this instance only under circumstances which persuade the Public Guardian that the client group can not afford to retain private counsel for this purpose.

3. The Public Guardian may conduct a competency assessment of an individual, provide counseling, advice and related services to the individual and the client group, and refer the client group to private counsel for legal representation in pursuit of appointment of a guardian.

4. The Public Guardian may provide advice and counsel to a client group, and the individual referred to the Office of Public Guardian, on strategies which encourage maximum self-reliance and independence in circumstances where a declaration of incompetence may be avoided and the presenting problems of the individual are adequately addressed without appointment of a guardian, to include preparation and execution of documents, such as a durable power of attorney, necessary to carry out this purpose.

5. The Public Guardian may investigate, concurrent with Adult Protective Services, the circumstances of an individual who is subject to a guardianship where allegations of the abuse or neglect of the individual are present, and

a. engage with the guardian and the individual to enhance and increase the capacities of the guardian in order to remove the neglect and abuse, or

b. when appropriate, because efforts to enhance and increase the capacities of a guardian have failed or would be harmful to the individual, petition the Superior Court, seeking to intervene in the guardianship matter formally.

6. The Public Guardian may provide advice, information and guidance to a guardian so that the guardian can provide quality services to the ward in an effective and caring manner, and comply with the responsibilities and legal mandates imposed by virtue of being appointed guardian.

7. The Public Guardian shall develop and implement programs of public education on guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, and programs which encourage the development of private guardians able and willing to serve as guardian of the person.

E. Information and Referral

In those matters in which a referral falls outside of the statutory duties of the Office of the Public Guardian, a case will not be opened but the Public Guardian may provide information to the person referred and to the client group to aid in the understanding or resolution of issues presented. The Public Guardian may make referrals to other service providers as appropriate. The referral form shall note that the referred matter falls outside of the statutory duties, and note that information and referral is being provided to the person referred and to the client group.

F. Case Closure

When all necessary or requested services have been provided, commensurate with the nature of a case, the case shall be closed. Case closure shall be noted on the referral form with a brief statement of the outcome of the case. 

In matters in which the Public Guardian is appointed as the guardian of the person and/or the estate of an adult, if it is expedient and appropriate, the Public Guardian Review Board may provide input to the Public Guardian on the decision to close a case.

VI. Ethics and Standards of Practice of the Office of Public Guardian

Guardianship over adults on Guam is governed by code at 15 GCA, Division 4, §§ 3501 - 4802.
The adoption of a Code of Ethics and of Standards of Practice in this document is not intended in any way to amend or diminish this statutory scheme, but rather to supplement and enhance the understanding of the statutory obligations to be met by the Public Guardian when serving as the guardian of an adult.

The Office of the Public Guardian has acquired membership in the National Guardianship Association. The Office of Public Guardian recognizes this organization as a national force in working toward the improvement of services to persons needing a guardian and the enhancement of guardianship programs. 

A. The Office of the Public Guardian adopts A Model Code of Ethics for Guardians, authored by Michael D. Casasanto, Mitchell Simon and Judith Roman, copyright 1988. 

The Model Code of Ethics for Guardians has been adopted by the National Guardianship Association, and provides a modern and comprehensive statement of Rules which serve as an excellent guide to ethical decision making and ethical behavior by the Public Guardian, and the staff and volunteers of the Office of Public Guardian.

The Model Code of Ethics for Guardians is set out in Appendix A to these Policies, Procedures and Rules.

B. The Office of the Public Guardian adopts the Standards of Practice, copyright 2000, adopted by the National Guardianship Association Board of Directors, and ratified by the National Guardianship Association membership in June 2000, as a statement of the best practices and the highest quality of practice for persons serving as guardian of the person or the estate of an incompetent adult. 

The Standards of Practice shall be a guide and a benchmark of the relationship between a ward and a guardian, to be exercised to the greatest extent possible by the Public Guardian and the staff and volunteers of the Office of the Public Guardian in the day to day practice of guardianship work with individuals and their families on Guam. 

The Standards of Practice, copyright 2000, adopted by the National Guardianship Association, is included in these Policies, Procedures and Rules by this reference, and is available in the Office of the Public Guardian and from the National Guardianship Association, 1604 North Country Club Road, Tucson, AZ 85716-3102.

VII. Fee for Service


The Public Guardian Act authorizes the Office of the Public Guardian to receive such reasonable fees for services as the Superior Court allows. 7 GCA § 3112 (e)(1-3). 

In order to implement this provision of the Public Guardian Act, a schedule is hereby adopted which is reasonable, and which will serve to standardize the amount of fees that the Public Guardian shall recommend to the Superior Court for consideration. Nothing herein requires the Public Guardian to seek fees in a case if, in the judgement of the Public Guardian, such fee would be detrimental to the ward. This is consistent with the expressed legislative intent that the Office of Public Guardian is to furnish guardianship services at reduced or no cost where appropriate. See, P.L. 25-103, Section 1.

Fee Schedule:
A. No Fee will be sought for individuals whose monthly income is $750.00 or less, from all sources.

B. A fee of 8% per month will be charged against the adjusted monthly income of the ward, provided that the ward has a gross monthly income of greater than $750.00.

Gross monthly income means income from all sources before any deductions or reductions for any purpose, including deductions taken at the source of the income for such things as Medicare coverage, healthcare coverage or deductions made to pay for loans or other obligations.

Adjusted monthly income means gross monthly income less cash grants of public assistance received during the month.

Examples:

I. Example 1
Ward receives Social Security $ 436.00 / mo.
Ward receives Veteran benefit $ 397.00 / mo.
Adjusted monthly income $ 833.00 / mo.

Recommended Fee (.08 x $833.00) $ 66.64 / mo.

2. Example 2
Ward receives Social Security $ 269.00 / mo.
Ward receives Retirement(496.04 bi-wk) $1074.75 / mo.
Adjusted monthly income $1343.75 / mo.

Recommended Fee (.08 x $1343.75) $ 107.50 / mo.

3. Example 3
Ward receives Social Security $ 552.00 / mo.
Adjusted monthly income $ 552.00 / mo.

Recommended Fee $ -0-

C. Income includes earnings from any source, pension income, social security benefits, veteran benefits, cash grants of public assistance, if actually paid to the ward or to the guardian on behalf of the ward. Income does not include food stamp allotment or any other non-cash allotment granted to a person by the government or other source as a form of assistance or aid.

In all matters in which the Public Guardian is appointed the guardian of the person and/or the estate of an individual, an order allowing the collection of a fee from a ward must be obtained from the Superior Court of Guam prior to the assessment of the fee against the estate of the ward. The Public Guardian shall use the Fee Schedule in the determination of a reasonable fee for guardianship services.

All fees collected from the estate of wards of the Public Guardian pursuant to these Policies, Procedures and Rules, and pursuant to court order, shall be deposited in the Public Guardian Fund, as authorized by the Public Guardian Act. 7 GCA § 3112 (e) and (m).

VIII. Public and Private Grants and Charitable Contributions

The Public Guardian shall develop and carry out plans and programs intended to secure public and private grants and awards, and charitable contributions for the purpose of funding the services provided by the Office of the Public Guardian. Any expenditure for solicitation of or application for such donations or grants shall be prudent and reasonable.

All grants, awards and contributions received by the Office of the Public Guardian are to be deposited into the Public Guardian Fund. 7 GCA § 3112 (l) and (m). 

IX. Public Guardian Fund

There is established by the Public Guardian Act a fund, called the Public Guardian Fund. 7 GCA § 3112 (m). The Public Guardian Fund shall be established as an account or accounts in one or more banks on Guam. The Public Guardian Fund shall be under the control of the Public Guardian.

Expenditures from the Public Guardian Fund shall be consistent with the Public Guardian Act, with any conditions attached to the funds by a funding source, and made pursuant to a budget approved by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam.

A complete report of the revenues received by the Public Guardian Fund, and of the expenditures made from the Public Guardian Fund, and of its balance shall be made a part of the annual report which the Public Guardian is required to make to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 7 GCA § 3112 (g) and (m). A complete report of the revenues received by the Public Guardian Fund, and of the expenditures made from the Public Guardian Fund, and of its balance shall be submitted to the Guam Legislature annually.

The Public Guardian shall submit to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court a monthly report on the Public Guardian Fund which shall include a reconciled bank statement, and a cash flow report that sets out revenues received into the fund and expenditures made from the fund for that period covered by the reconciled bank statement.

The Public Guardian Fund shall be subject to an annual audit at the direction of the Chief Justice.

X. Annual Report

The Public Guardian shall prepare and submit an annual report to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam, on or before January 31 of each year, for the period January 1 through December 31 of the prior year. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may require such other reports from the Public Guardian as deemed necessary or appropriate from time to time. 7 GCA § 3112 (g).

XI. Public Guardian Review Board

The Public Guardian Act established the Public Guardian Review Board. 7 GCA § 3112 (b). The role of the Public Guardian Review Board is (1) to consistently monitor persons, corporations and agencies appointed as guardians for adults, and (2) to review the care and protection of those persons under guardianship of the Office of the Public Guardian.

The Board consists of eleven members comprised of doctors, lawyers, social workers and representatives of organizations which represent the persons who are likely to need guardians during their adult life. 7 GCA § 3112(b).

The Public Guardian shall assure that the Public Guardian Review Board meets at least two time a year, and may, as directed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or by the Public Guardian Review Board, assure that additional meetings are held. The Public Guardian shall assure that written minutes of each meeting of the Public Guardian Review Board are prepared, and available for review by the board at the next meeting. 
The Public Guardian Review Board shall enact Rules of Order or Bylaws which promote the operation of the Public Guardian Review Board in compliance with the Open Government Act, 5 GCA Chapter 8, and which provide for the Public Guardian Review Board to go into executive session when permitted by law.

XII. Adoption of the Policies, Procedures and Rules

These Policies, Procedures and Rules are adopted pursuant to the Administrative Adjudication Law, and may be amended or otherwise modified pursuant to the rule making powers of the Supreme Court of Guam.