Process Chosen

Members of MO-WINGS determined the process for improving Missouri guardianship and conservatorship practices as follows:

  • First, improve the current law which is 32 years old by
    1. Reorganizing and improving Chapter 475, RSMo
    2. Incorporating where appropriate to Missouri recommendations of the three national guardianship summits
    3. Having courts consider alternatives to guardian/conservator appointment
    4. Emphasizing services centered upon the dignity and well-being of persons with guardians and/or conservators
  • Second, develop policy guidance and best practices for consistent application of law throughout state
  • Third, educate and train those involved in the guardianship and conservatorship of incapacitated or partially incapacitated persons—courts, attorneys, guardians, and service providers
  • Fourth, provide for ongoing evaluation of how law is working to address any identified needs for further changes in policies, training, and statutory changes.

Reg Turnbull, who served on the drafting committee in 1981 and 1982 to draft the legislation that passed in 1983, said, “Since our present law went into effect 32 years ago, Missouri has enacted other laws that might serve as alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship for some people such as durable powers of attorney laws for health care and income and property purposes, a custodianship law, and the uniform trust code. Moreover, Social Security and Medicaid benefits for elderly people and people with disabilities and disabled Veterans' benefits must be better coordinated in a new guardianship law.”

Dan Wheeler, Attorney and former probate commissioner in Jackson County, “Our state court statistics indicate that the number of full probate actions after people die in the past decade has declined about 6% statewide, most likely because of the use of trusts and other non-probate transfers. On the other hand, statistics on the numbers of adult guardianship cases supervised by our probate courts indicate a 29% increase over the same period despite the use of durable powers of attorney. We expect the increase to accelerate as baby boomers and people with disabilities live longer with increased risk of developing Alzheimer's or other dementias.”

David English, Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Columbia and former Chair of the MO Bar's Probate and Trust Committee, “Missouri was a leader is passing the current law in 1983. Based upon recommendations from national experts and advocates in Missouri, we should update our law for the 21st Century given the challenges of serving people who cannot take care of themselves or their property.”