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In 1984, Ursuline Support Services established the Guardianship program through a contract with the Allegheny County Department of Aging. This program, now through the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) of the County Department of Human Services, offers adult legal guardianship (conservatorship) services to persons who are more than 60 years old, primarily low income, and who are referred for guardianship by the AAA, the Orphans’ Court division of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, or from family members, attorneys, nursing homes, the Veterans’ Administration, hospitals or other institutions.
Who Needs a Guardian?
The primary reason that a person needs a legal guardian is because they lack the capacity to make effective decisions for their own health, safety, welfare and finances. When a person has no one willing or able to act on their behalf in medical and financial matters – or family members are in conflict as to who should assume responsibility – legal guardianship (conservatorship) is recommended. Once a psychologist or psychiatrist determines that an individual cannot capably act on their own behalf, guardianship proceedings can be initiated by an attorney. If a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) was established when the individual still had capacity, guardianship would usually not be required.
Types of Guardians
- Guardians of Person (GOPs) make medical, placement and end-of-life decisions for their wards. GOPs also are responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day needs of their wards, including safety issues and appropriate medical care, are met.
- Guardians of Estate (GOEs) marshal all their wards’ assets and utilize all the income and assets for the care of each ward. In addition, Ursuline Support Services GOEs are responsible for taking care of or selling wards’ homes to utilize available funds for their care. GOEs control bank accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, real estate, personal possessions and automobiles, as well as income from social security, pensions and trusts to use for the care and well-being of their wards. GOEs also create budgets and set up Irrevocable Burial Reserve accounts.
Public Guardianship Program
In 1984, Ursuline Support Services established its Public Guardianship Program through a contract with the Allegheny County Department of Aging. Now in collaboration with Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA)/Department of Human Services, this program offers adult legal guardianship (conservatorship) services to individuals at least 60 years of age, primarily low income, have no responsible caregivers and referred for guardianship by the AAA or the Orphans’ Court division of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The AAA oversees the work of the guardianship program through regular monitoring. On behalf of Allegheny County, Ursuline Support Services serves as the guardian for referrals of residents in the four Kane Regional Centers.
Private referrals for guardianship come to our program from attorneys, hospitals, long-term care facilities, other institutions or organizations, or family members of those in need who are not connected with Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA)or Kane. These also include individuals who live outside of Allegheny County but reside in the southwestern Pennsylvania area. When individuals enter the program with substantial assets, they are billed for guardianship services on a case-by-case basis at an hourly or monthly rate.
For more information on Guardianship (Conservatorship) Services contact us at 412-224-4700.