The Iowa Legislature recently passed and the Governor signed legislation which makes significant changes to the Iowa law regarding guardianships and conservatorships for adults and minors. This month I will deal with the changes regarding Guardianships for adults and Conservatorships for adults and minors. Next month, I will discuss changes for Guardianships for minors.
For new guardianships and conservatorships which are opened after December 31, 2019, there are new requirements requiring professional evaluation of the proposed protected person and a requirement for a background check for all proposed guardians and conservators. The guardian and conservator is required to file an initial plan with the court within 90 days after appointment and is also required to file an inventory of assets within 90 days after appointment. The new law will also apply to guardianships and conservatorships which were opened before January 1, 2020. For such guardianships and conservatorships it will be important for the guardian and conservator to secure court approval for care plans which comply with the new statutes before January 1, 2020. Under the new statute, no actions are authorized without prior court approval. As such, care plans need to request authority for the guardians and conservators to perform all of the activities they do on behalf of the protected person.
Last week I attended the Annual Meeting of the Iowa State Bar Association and listened to an excellent presentation on the new legislation by Susan Pence of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For conservatorships, she recommends that the conservator should consider seeking authority before the end of this year for the following items:
- Open, close, deposit and withdraw funds in accounts at any financial institution;
- Sell or transfer any real property or personal property of the protected person;
- Receive or accept additional property from any source;
- Pay routine expenses for health care, nutrition, living quarters, and activities;
- Reimburse the guardian or conservator for out of pocket expenses to purchase goods and services for the protected person;
- Utilize the protected person’s property and/or income to provide support for anyone the protected person is legally obligated to support;
- Purchase and maintain health care, automobile, home property and liability insurance coverage;
- File all federal and state income tax returns and pay all taxes owed;
- Retain and compensate individuals or companies to provide necessary services, including transportation, food preparation, home maintenance, tax preparation and acquisition of food, clothing and other necessities and sundries;
- Pursue and/or defend and/or compromise any and all claims by or against the protected person;
- Pay court approved fees for the guardian, conservator, attorney and court visitor;
- Accumulate funds not needed for upcoming expenses in prudent investments pursuant to Section 633.123 including FDIC-insured deposits, US Treasury obligations, and publicly traded stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments;
- Provide for an regular allowance for the protected person for food, health care, clothing, training, education, transportation, entertainment, and other necessities;
- Allow the conservator to request and receive information regarding the assets of the protected person, including digital assets under Chapter 638;
- Allow the conservator to obtain and maintain a court ordered bond;
- Authorize the conservator to act as the representative payee for the protected person including apply for and receiving Social Security payments;
- Allow the conservator to make gifts consistent with the pattern of giving established prior to the conservatorship and to make gifts which are beneficial to the protected person for tax purposes.
For guardianships which were opened prior to January 1, 2020, Sue recommends that guardians file with the court before the end of this year to request authority to perform any and all of their responsibilities under current Iowa Code Sections 633.635 and 633.669.
If you are involved in a guardianship or conservatorship which is pending at this time, you should meet with the attorney representing the guardianship or conservatorship to make sure the steps are taken to meet the requirements of the new law before January 1, 2020.
If you have additional questions or would like assistance with these items, please contact us at our office by calling 515-225-1100 or sending us a message through the contact form within this Web site.