CASCI

Subtitle

2015 Legislative Report

                                                                                   

CASCI Legislative Report

Submitted by Pamela Williams

The California Legislature is in the middle of a two-year session and February 19, 2016 is the deadline to introduce new bills. The CASCI Board of Directors worked with the Administrative Office of the Court to respond to several bills introduced during 2015.  CASCI responded to one bill in particular that would have waived investigations when a parent petitions for a limited conservatorship. CASCI shared our concerns about the bill and provided examples of situations where this would be detrimental to a proposed conservatee. The AOC also opposed the bill and it died in committee.

 

Several bills related to conservatorships and guardianships passed and took effective 1/1/16.  They include:

 

AB 900 – Amended Probate Code §§ 1490, 1510.1,1600 and 1601 to authorize the probate court to establish or extend a guardianship of an unmarried person who is at least 18 years old, and not yet 21. This only applies in connection with a petition for finding regarding special immigrant juvenile status.  The guardianship can only be established with the young person’s consent and the law clarifies the young adults subject to such guardianship retain the rights they have as an adult including decisions about medical treatment, education and residence. The guardian under these provisions is authorized to act on behalf of the young adult with his/her consent.  The new law requires the court to terminate the guardianship upon a petition by the ward if over the age of 18.

 

AB439 – Amended Probate Code §2356.5 to require the court to specify whether an attorney representing a conservatee shall continue after the court considers a petition for dementia powers. It requires the court to either discharge the court-appointed attorney or make an order for continued representation. The bill refers to the standard in Probate Code §1470 in determining whether legal counsel is required.

 

AB1085 - Amended Probate Code §2351 and added Probate Code §2361. The law clarifies the conservatee retains the right to visitors, phone calls and mail unless limited by court order. The law provides that the court may issue an order that specifically grants the conservator the power to enforce the conservatee’s rights or grants the conservator specific powers and duties with respect to the conservatee’s personal rights.  An order under this code section can be included in the order appointing a conservator of the person or in a subsequent petition.  The law also requires a conservator to mail a notice to persons entitled to notice of the proceeding when a conservatee dies.

 

SB 589 – This bill further clarifies the requirements when disqualifying a conservatee from the right to vote.  You may recall several bills last year that clarified someone cannot be disqualified if they need assistance to complete the Affidavit of Voter Registration or sign with a mark. This bill requires the court to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the (proposed) conservatee cannot communicate, with or without reasonable accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process, regardless of his or her ability to complete the Affidavit of Voter Registration. At the time of the annual or biennial review if the conservatee was previously disqualified and communicates a desire to participate in the voting process, the court must set a hearing.

 

 Click the following link to Download and Print2015 Legislative Report

2014 Legislative Report

Report on 2014 Legislation

Prepared by Pamela Williams, CASCI Legislative Chair

December 2014

The 2014 California Legislative Session ended with several new laws affecting court investigators, conservatorships, guardianships, and stepparent adoptions. Below is a summary of the new laws that take effect 1/1/15.  One bill, AB 2034, authored by Assembly Member Gatto, was opposed by CASCI, and did not pass. The author may reintroduce it next year. CASCI opposed the bill, in part, because it would have expanded court investigator duties in high conflict, non-conservatorship cases, without providing any funding for this new function. 

AB 1311 clarifies the laws relating to voter registration. In addition to changes to the Elections Code, it adds provisions to Probate Code §§ 1823, 1826, 1828, 1851 & 1910.  It prohibits a conservatee from being disqualified from voting on the basis that he or she signs the affidavit of voter registration with a mark or cross; signs the affidavit with a signature stamp; or completes the affidavit with the assistance of another person.  Court investigators should review our practice in determining whether someone is capable of completing an affidavit of voter registration to conform to the new requirements.

AB 1657 addresses the issue of court interpreters in civil matters. Many of us have had increasing difficulty in securing court interpreters to assist us in conservatorship and guardianship investigations. The bill provides that it is the intent of the Legislature to provide interpreters to all parties in civil proceedings who require one. The bill authorizes the court to provide an interpreter regardless of income, and creates a priority order for such services based on the availability of funding. Conservatorship and guardianship matters are the fourth highest priority, behind domestic violence, unlawful detainers, and termination of parental rights.  Changes to Evidence Code §§ 755 and 756 and Government Code §68092.1 implement the new law.

AB 2024 and AB 2741 both relate to professional fiduciaries. The Professional Fiduciary Bureau is extended from 2015 to 2019 and the Bureau is authorized to establish a retired-status license. Professional fiduciaries are prohibited from practicing with a retired or cancelled license and a professional fiduciary that does not renew his or her license within 3 years cannot renew or restore his or her license or be reinstated. The Bureau will also have authority to investigate any professional fiduciary with a retired, inactive, canceled or suspended license.

AB 2747 is a civil omnibus bill that addresses fee waivers in conservatorship and guardianship matters and made some changes to Probate Code §2356.5. The bill provides that the court can grant a fee waiver based on the financial resources of the proposed conservatee or ward, and that an order waiving the filing fee can excuse the applicant from paying court investigator assessment fees.  The changes are to Government Code §§68631, 68631.5, 68632 and Probate Code §§1513.1 and 1851.5. The changes to Probate Code §2356.5, corrected cross references to secured perimeter placement and deleted outdated provisions.

SB940 implements the California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act.  This bill is similar to the UCCJEA in guardianships and addresses interstate jurisdiction and establishes procedures to transfer conservatorships matters to another state (or foreign country) or accept transfers of conservatorship/adult guardianships from other states.  The provisions are effective 1-1-16 and the Judicial Council is required to develop court rules and forms necessary to implement the act.  The act exempts certain cases from transfer including L-P-S and conservatorships involving the developmentally disabled. If an order is made to provisionally accept a case for transfer into California, the court investigator must commence an investigation. It allows a temporary conservatorship to be filed while a transfer petition is pending. 

The California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act is lengthy and the various issues with interstate jurisdiction and procedures will be discussed in a future legislative report.  

Another bill of interest is AB1687, which provides a Bill of Rights for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. The bill adds provisions to Welfare and Institutions Code §4502.

Over the past year the Disability and Abuse Project, Spectrum Institute, has held public hearings on the issues of limited conservatorships.  Recently they requested the Judicial Council establish a Limited Conservatorship Task Force to study current law and practices in the appointment of limited conservators and court supervision of limited conservatorship. At the 11-14-14 meeting of the Judicial Council’s Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee, Spectrum Institute submitted materials in support of the need for a task force.  The materials address issues of personal, legal and civil rights of conservatees, the need for judicial and court investigator education, court procedures and practices, appointment of legal counsel, and regional center practices. To review the materials go to www.courts.ca.gov and click on the link “Policy and Administration” then follow the link to the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee.  Spectrum Institute was involved in AB 1311 discussed above.

Another bill of interest is an expansion of grandparent visitation rights. AB 1628 allows a grandparent to file a petition for visitation with a grandchild if one of the parents is incarcerated or involuntary institutionalized. This will be added to Family Code §3104.

For those investigators who conduct investigations of stepparent adoptions, AB 2344 makes changes to stepparent adoptions where one of the spouses or partners gave birth to the child during the marriage or domestic partnership, including a registered domestic partnership or civil union from another jurisdiction. The changes adds Family Code §9005.5 and provides that, unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause, the investigation required by Family Code §9001 is not required and appearance at the hearing required by Family Code §9007 can be waived.
Petitions under these circumstances must be accompanied by:

 (1) A copy of the parties’ marriage certificate, registered domestic partner certificate, or civil union from another jurisdiction.

(2) A copy of the child’s birth certificate.

(3) Declarations by the parent who gave birth and the spouse or partner who is adopting explaining the circumstances of the child’s conception in detail sufficient to identify whether there may be other persons with a claim to parentage of the child who is required to be provided notice of, or who must consent to, the adoption.

The court may order a hearing to ascertain whether there are additional persons who must be provided notice of, or who must consent to, the adoption if it appears from the face of the pleadings and the evidence that proper notice or consent have not been provided.

Finally, AB 2034 did not pass the legislature this year, but may be reintroduced next year. It would have added sections to the Probate Code to provide for visitation of elder and dependent adults without conservators. It would have required court investigators to perform an investigation and interview various people about the request. CASCI wrote two letters, one sharing our concerns about the bill and another ultimately opposing the bill.  The Judicial Council also opposed the bill, in part because it failed to provide an appropriation to cover the costs of new court hearings and court investigations.  After passing the Assembly, the bill died in Senate Committee.

If CASCI members are interested in working on legislation or have information about pending legislation, please contact the chair, Pamela Williams, at 415-444-7384 or by email at pamela_williams@marincourt.org.

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 Please note some of the above information was obtained from the Administrative Office of the Courts website.

 

Probate Conservatorship Updates - 2008

 

Training Requirement Updates

Additional Mandatory Training Information:

Probate Code Section 1456

Effective January 1, 2008

 

For a full summary of Probate Court Investigator education requirements and training pursuant to Probate Code §1456 go to the following link. The document will list the new training mandates and also how the 2008 CASCI Conference satisfied the mandatory requirements for all attendees. 

http://www.casci-court.com/Education Requirements as of 01-01-082 - FINAL Feb 8 2008.doc

 

Legislative Updates

History of CASCI Legislative Involvement with the Omnibus Act

by Heather Tackitt

The Conservatorship reform bills have been signed by the Governor, and the laws, or portions thereof, must be implemented by either July 2007 or January 2008. (see summary of the bills below). The new laws required the AOC to work with certain organizations affected by the reforms, with CASCI specifically being named as one of those organizations. As a result of this requirement, in late Fall 2006, CASCI Board Members Deborah Denny (Santa Clara County) and Heather Tackitt (Madera County) were assigned to an AOC "working group," which also included CASCI member Mary Joy Quinn (San Francisco), and Dan Stubbs (a private fiduciary). The charge of that group, within the larger AOC sub-committees, was to help draft Court Rules outlining the statewide standards of Minimum Education and Training requirements for Probate Court Investigators, pursuant to new Probate Code 1456.     

CASCI membership had previously approved a "Minimum Standards and Training" model, and this was used as a "building block" during the creation of the draft. Also, CASCI was specifically listed as an approved training organization for the continuing education and training requirements in the Draft Rule.

The Draft Rule was presented to the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee in February 2007 and has since been codified. 

NOTE: CASCI member Sandy Sanfilippo (Santa Cruz County) is also an active member of the Probate Conservatorship Task Force (PCTF), the first task force created after the Conservatorship Reform issue was raised in December 2005. The PCTF also presented to the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee a draft proposal for the implementation of Section 1456. The PCTF’s charge, notice of meetings, agendas, minutes, and other items of PCTF interest can be found at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/tflists/probcons.htm.

Update as of 10/2008 -- The Omnibus Reform Act was  not funded by the State of California but the CASCI Board continued to push for funding.  In October 2008, Chief Justice Geoge agreed to allocate 8.5 Miliion to the State Courts to fund the new mandates.  This was half of the necessary funds.  But given the tight budget year, CASCI wrote an appreciative "Thank You" letter to the Chief Justice and the member of the Judicial Council who showed they care about the elderly and disabled adults that we, as Court Investigators, are so dedicated too.  

 

 

Summary of the Legislative Bills

AB 1363 (Jones), SB 1116 (Scott), SB 1550 (Figueroa), and SB 1716 (Bowan) 

AB 1363 requires that by January 1, 2008, the Judicial Council must: (a) specify by rule the qualifications and continuing education requirements for probate Conservatorship court staff attorneys, examiners, investigators, and appointed attorneys; (b) render a report to the Legislature regarding the caseload and level of compliance of certain probate Conservatorship courts with statutory time frames; and (c) produce a standard accounting form to be used for periodic accounting in Conservatorship cases. The bill also broadens the duties of court investigators regarding investigating, interviewing, and reporting to the probate Conservatorship courts. The investigators would be required to determine the conservatee’s wishes. The bill also requires a determination of "best interest" of the conservatee to change the conservatee’s residence, and provides more-stringent notice requirements for appointment of temporary conservators and for filing inventories and appraisals. It also puts constraints on compensation and costs reimbursement to conservators and changes the procedures for waiver of bonds. Finally, the bill requires public guardians to comply with the continuing education requirements that are established by the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators.

SB 1116 provides additional safeguards regarding the sale of the conservatee’s residential real property, and requires the court to apply a "best interests" standard to the conservatee evaluation.

SB 1550 creates a "Professional Fiduciaries Bureau" in the Department of Consumer Affairs to license and regulate the conduct of professional conservators and others. It also creates a fund into which licensing fees would be deposited. An advisory committee is designated to later assume the responsibilities of the Bureau.

SB 1716 permits a probate Conservatorship court to receive ex parte communications from any "interested person" concerning any "subject raised in the pleadings" and to take appropriate action as necessary, such as an immediate review or investigation. The bill encourages investigators to more carefully scrutinize the conservatee’s placement, quality of care, and finances.

 

The following PDF documents include comprehensive information regarding the 4 new laws that comrpomise the Reform Act:

AB1363 by section

CASCI Draft Proposals for 2007

New Duties for CI's

Summary of Omnibus Reform Act

Summary of Roundtable Discussion

The following Link includes the proposed Education Requirements (A Must Read):

http://www.casci-court.com/Required%20Education%20for%20PCI's.doc

 

 

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