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Alabama’s guardianship laws could undergo first major revisions since the 1980s

AARP is making it clear they are in support of the passage of the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA) in Alabama.

Candi Williams, AARP Alabama state director states, “Unfortunately, Alabama’s current guardianship laws are outdated, relying on a one size fits all, cookie-cutter approach that often robs seniors and people with disabilities of their rights, independence, and dignity.”

There have been many stories and experiences brought to light about seniors being taken advantage of, restricted unfairly and even abused under the care of their current guardianship. It is becoming far too common and updates must be made to protect aging loved ones.

Williams also writes, “Recent news headlines about guardianship arrangements gone wrong have brought more public attention to this mostly hidden topic.”

The UGCOPAA would address the needed reforms, including:

  • Prohibiting a court from issuing a full guardianship order when a less restrictive alternative is available and appropriate for the individual, such as a supported decision-making arrangement or technological assistance;
  • Requiring that each person under guardianship have an individualized plan that considers the person’s preferences and values;
  • Clarifying the legal duties of the guardian, including that the guardian must make the best decision for the individual under their care that they reasonably believe the person would make on their own unless doing so would cause harm;
  • Clarifying that the guardian must promote self-determination to the extent possible and encourage the individual’s participation in decisions;
  • Combatting abuse and exploitation by, among other things, forbidding a guardian to restrict communication or visits from family and friends unless the court orders otherwise.

While guardianship is still important in certain cases, the passage of the UGCOPAA would allow families, caregivers and seniors their rights to live independently at home – where they want to be.

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