Sunday, November 4, 2018

Legal guardian system set to change

WEST CHESTER >> Those who serve as legal guardians for incapacitated persons and their estates will soon have to adapt to a new way of filing annual reports on the physical and financial conditions of the people they are charged with looking after.

According to Terri Clark, the Chester County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans Court, beginning Aug. 29, guardians will have to submit those mandated reports through an internet-based system with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Previously, those reports could be mailed or brought into a county’s Orphans Court office for inspection.

And while many of those who look after the well-being and financial resources of incapacitated adults come from professional agencies, Clark said the county does have a significant percentage of family members or close friends who are court-appointed attorneys. She worries that the people may not have the knowledge or resources to keep up with the new regulations.

So Clark said that beginning this month, her office in the county Justice Center will offer free access to computers with which the legal guardians can file the necessary reports. She said the staff at the Register of Wills Office will also be trained to help those filing.

“I want to get this out,” Clark said in an interview Monday in her office overlooking West Market Street. “I think the new system is going to take some getting used to, so my staff will be trained to help anyone who would like to come in and file their reports.”

Clark estimated that there are about 700 non-professional guardians looking after those who have been found in need of care and oversight by one of the county’s three Orphans Court judges.

Those guardians are required to file every year reports that include a daily, weekly, or monthly account of the steps they have taken to insure the well-being of those they are looking after. How many times did they go to the doctor? Did they do the grocery shopping? What other activities did they engage in?

Guardians who are responsible for the person’s estate — their bank account, stock holdings, real estate, etc. — must also file a report detailing what has been happening with those finances.

The new rules, known collectively as the Guardian Tracking System, were put in place this year by a statewide task force looking into elder abuse. Commonwealth Court Judge Paula Francisco Ott, formerly a county Orphans Court judge, was involved in the effort, Clark said.

The system is intended to help cut down on some elder abuse by making it more difficult for a guardian who has been removed from one case to relocate to another jurisdiction and continue their guardianship, she said. It will also track how well a professional guardian is performing, so a judge can decide whether an agency should continue to be appointed to care for a vulnerable person. The system will also make sure that guardians are filing mandated annual reports.

“This process is going to make it harder for elder abuse to happen,” she said. “But change is difficult for everyone, and we’re here to make their job easier.”

The tracking system is available at For more information contact the county Orphans Court at

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Legal guardian system set to change


Charlie Lyons said...

I hope and pray the change isn't all about the way the filings are submitted to the court and that the filings are actually going to be read and audited.

Anonymous said...

charlie ??audit ? what's that ? the demand is to file.They only harass those that voice and file complaints about this illegal and unconstitutional system that preys on the elderly and disabled.
we have no crimes,reports to APS etc, or even disputes with the SSA,so where do they come in ?
LOL via their bs statutes and codes.