Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute Presents on Public Guardianship at Massachusetts Bar Association’s 8th Annual Probate Law Conference

On Friday, November 13th, 2020, the Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute and the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court will present a two-hour program about their joint pilot project, Public Guardian Services (“PGS”), at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 8th Annual Probate Law Conference.  

Topics that will be covered during the two-hour presentation include:

  • Why do we need a public guardian in Massachusetts?
  • Details surrounding the pilot project with a focus on the different roles of the Probate Court and PGS.
  • Measuring success of the pilot project.

The presentation will kick off with a welcome and introduction by Evelyn J. Patsos, Esq. of the Probate and Family Court, who will be followed by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who has been an advocate for elder rights in Massachusetts for 40 years.  Other speakers include Executive Director of Public Guardian Services (PGS), Frederick (Sandy) Hovey, CCM; Members of the PGS Board, John J. Ford, Esq., and Wynn A. Gerhard; Executive Director of the Center for Guardianship Excellence, Heather L. Connors, Ph.D.; and Executive Director of Guardian Community Trust, Peter M. Macy, Ed.M., J.D.

The Probate and Family Court announced its partnership with PGS in July, 2020, as a pilot project to offer public guardianship and conservatorship services to the indigent in Massachusetts.  The pilot will start small, offering to cover between 80 and 160 cases in Suffolk and Plymouth Counties.

Under the pilot program, Public Guardian Services may be appointed as the guardian or conservator of last resort when there is no willing or suitable person to act as the guardian or conservator for an individual whom the Probate and Family Court has determined lacks sufficient decision-making capacity. PGS accepts referrals from the Probate and Family Court, private individuals, hospitals, nursing homes and other entities. All referrals are screened by PGS before consenting to any appointment and PGS appointments are capped at specific staff-to-incapacitated person ratios.  Case Managers who are employees of PGS act as the surrogate decision-makers for such persons and are responsible for all statutory court reporting requirements.

Funding for PGS is the result of a long-term mission of Guardian Community Trust, a non-profit trustee of a pooled disability trust program located in Andover, Massachusetts, and a founding member of the Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute.  Executive Director Macy will present the long-term funding vision for PGS at the end of the Institute’s presentation.

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