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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 basic reason that a person needs a legal guardian is because he or she lacks the capacity to make effective decisions for his or her own health, safety, welfare and finances. When a person has no one willing to act on his or her behalf in the medical and financial arenas, or family members are in conflict with whom should assume responsibility, a legal guardianship (conservatorship) is recommended. Once a psychologist or psychiatrist has determined that an individual cannot act for him or herself, then Guardianship proceedings can be initiated by an attorney. If someone has signed a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) when she or he still had capacity, usually Guardianship is not needed.
Public Guardianship Program
The Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) makes the referrals to the public guardianship program for individuals over the age of 60 years. These are people who have no responsible caregiver. The AAA monitors the work of the Guardianship program through monthly monitoring visits. Additionally, Ursuline Support Services, on behalf of Allegheny County, serves as the guardian for residents referred who reside in the four Kane Regional Centers.
Non Public Guardianship Program
Private referrals for guardianship come from attorneys, hospitals, long-term care facilities or family members of those in need. When individuals enter the program with substantial assets, they are billed for Guardianship Services at rate of $100.00 per hour.
Types of Guardians
Guardians of Person (GOPs) make medical, placement and end-of-life decisions. Guardians of Person are responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day needs of their wards are met, including safety and appropriate medical care.
- Guardians of Estate (GOEs) marshal all the assets and utilize all the income and assets for the care of each ward. Ursuline Support Services employs Guardians of Estate, in addition to our Real Estate Specialist who is responsible for taking care of or selling wards’ homes to utilize the funds for their care. Guardians of Estate 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 of their wards. Guardians of Estate also create budgets and set up Irrevocable Burial Reserve accounts.
For more information on Guardianship (Conservatorship) Services contact us at 412-224-4700.