Significant Changes to Missouri’s Guardianship Law

By: Debra K. Schuster

In August 2018, Missouri’s guardianship law changed in several significant ways.

Prior to August 2018, an individual seeking court appointment as guardian (a person designated to make decisions for one unable to do so for themselves) or conservator (a person designated to make financial decisions) was eliminated from consideration if they were a convicted felon. A person otherwise qualified to for appointment as conservator still needed to obtain a bond to ensure they would not steal or misuse the money of the person they were seeking to be legally appointed to help.

In addition to these requirements, as of August 2018, a person seeking to be appointed as conservator who is not the spouse, an adult child, or a sibling of the person needing such help must go through three additional steps:

  1. Verification that the person applying to be appointed is not identified on disqualification lists of the Departments of Mental Health, Social Services, and Health and Senior Services or on the abuse and neglect registries for adults and children;
  2. Completion of a Missouri criminal record review; and
  3. Confirmation they are not on the sexual offender registry.

The prospective guardian or conservator is also required to develop a “habilitation plan” explaining their proposal to the court for ensuring the care of the person they are seeking to help to maximize that person’s ability to live as independently as possible. The prospective guardian must use the “least restrictive alternative” in making living arrangement decisions and restrictions on the individual’s ability to make personal care decisions in a way that balances the individual’s ability to be self-sufficient with the need to ensure their physical safety and protection from financial exploitation and imprudent financial decision-making.

The attorneys at Paule, Camazine and Blumenthal, P.C. can guide you through the complex changes in the new guardianship law and represent you in applying and fulfilling the requirements of being appointed guardian and conservator. They can also help you determine when going to court may not be necessary, and create estate planning documents for you to appoint such decision-makers outside of the court process. Contact us today to discuss these and any other legal questions and needs you have.

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Debra Schuster

Debra Schuster

St. Louis elder law attorney Debra K. Schuster focuses on helping social workers, geriatric and care managers, financial planners, and others who help with elder care issues. In addition, Ms. Schuster facilitates conversations about elder law issues for families faced with making difficult decisions for their loved ones.