DENVER — A bill that would have provided basic protections for people under a court-appointed guardianship will now, if approved, create a task force to study the issue in-depth.
That working group will bring multiple voices to the table to potentially propose new legislation for the 2023 session.
While not as big a step as a new law, it does provide victims of guardianship abuse with some hope for change.
Originally, the bill would have required that guardians notify family membersif the protected person moved, was away for an extended period, was admitted to the hospital or died. The task force will look at that and possibly more.
“I think everybody in this room agrees that there is an issue,” said Rep. Kim Ransom (R-Douglas County), who sponsored the legislation.
HB22-1217 was passed unanimously by the Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee and will move on to Appropriations prior to a full vote in front of the state House of Representatives.
“I think Rep. Ransom has brought to light a very important problem that we have in the state of Colorado, the guardianship abuse that has been identified,” said. Rep. Richard Holtorf, (R-Akron).
Over the past year, Denver7 Investigates has looked into instances of potential guardianship abuse from conservators who operate in the state with little oversight from the judiciary.
A court can place anyone under guardianship if they are found mentally unfit. A guardian handles their affairs while a conservator is put in charge of their finances.
“It’s very evident that we have a problem that we need to fix to protect those vulnerable people,” Holtorf said.
Ransom called the bill an important first step toward addressing issues with guardianship, but noted the number of stakeholders that made legislation tricky this year.
“The world of guardianship is a pie that is separated into so many different pieces,” Ransom said. “The fact that there will be a task force, a working group consisting of all the players, to me, that is a big win.”