On July 14, 2021, the Rules Review Subcommittee of the Maryland Judiciary’s Equal Justice Committee held a listening session on the Guardianship Rules. The session was moderated by Circuit Court for Howard County Senior Judge Louis A. Becker, III, and Magistrate Tracey McKirgan, Circuit Court for Calvert County .
The committee was formed in June 2020, in an effort to build on the judiciary’s knowledge and proficiencies and to strengthen its commitment to equal justice under the law. The Committee is to recommend strategies to dismantle any discriminatory behaviors in all aspects of the Judiciary’s functions. It will identify necessary improvements, resources, and support services, and develop educational opportunities for ongoing Judiciary-wide engagement in the pursuit of equal justice for all.
The first speaker made multiple recommendations. First, she suggested that the courts modify their technology policies so that family members or other concerned parties could become involved in the guardianship process. Second, she suggested that the orders issued in guardianship cases should be more specific, in that they should note which rights, if any, a person retains. Third, she suggested that the guardianship forms should be modified to require a birth date of the guardian and a phone number of the place where the ward is living, to ensure that the ward can be found and is receiving competent care.
The second person who spoke noted that the bond required is sometimes an impediment to becoming a guardian of the property. Often a person cannot qualify for bond and the court will appoint someone from the member of the bar, who would probably charge more money than the family member would charge, if they charge anything at all, to serve as guardian. The third speaker noted the economic difficulties presented by filing fees in guardianship proceedings in certain counties, and the disparity of the financial burdens of a property guardianship proceeding from county to county.