NM Senate unanimously passes Uniform Guardianship bill
For Immediate Release: February 7, 2018
Contact: NM Senate Democrats at 505/986.4882
(Santa Fe, NM) Today, with broad bipartisan support, the New Mexico Senate unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 19, Uniform Guardianship & Other Arrangements, to help protect individuals in the guardianship system from falling victim to abuses at the hands of guardian/conservatorship agencies. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-15-Bernalillo), and James P. White, (R-19- Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe & Torrance).
Recent cases garnering statewide publicity have shown that some unscrupulous guardianship companies have embezzled money from their clients and left them penniless, among other abuses.
The law will help seniors and other citizens whose estates are shepherded by companies rest assured that their best interests are being kept at heart. In essence, the bill centers the focus of guardianship on the needs of the person needing protection.
If enacted, the measure will provide comprehensive rights to protected persons who are in or entering the guardianship system. Among other improvements to the system, changes will include: expanding notice of the judicial process when seeking a guardianship, mandating open records and hearings, improving access to records, allowing visitation and communication between family members and the protected person, and requiring bonding for corporate guardians, custodians, and large estates.
“This has been a huge undertaking and will be a vast improvement to the current system,” said Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto. “It will require the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to meet with the Legislative Finance Committee during the interim to report on the status of guardianship cases throughout the state during the year. Now judges keep track of guardianship cases on their laptops, but that information is not shared statewide.”
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.