1837 – Michigan law mandates that court appointed guardians must account to the court at least annually.

1974 – A Michigan Guardianship statute passed as part of the Mental Health Code specifically aimed at protecting people with developmental disabilities. The law’s stated purpose was “to encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence in the person.” The law gave wards the right to counsel, independent evaluations, a hearing, and a jury trial.

1988 – Michigan Legislature enacts the Michigan Guardianship Reform Act which covers the appointment of guardians for “legally incapacitated persons.” This law was aimed at protecting older adults and people with a mental illness.

1990 – National study of 22 states finds that Michigan’s guardianship numbers were steadily increasing and that Michigan far exceeded other states in numbers of guardianship petitions filed in court. The State Bar’s Elderly Law and Advocacy section asked the Michigan Supreme Court to create a task force on guardianships and conservatorships.

Sept. 1996 – State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly unanimously adopts a resolution supporting a task force.

Nov. 1996 – Michigan Supreme Court creates the Task Force on Guardianships and Conservatorships to “examine how the judiciary, legislature, and executive branch agencies can better protect the interests of those for whom guardianship is sought.” Twenty-five probate court judges, probate court registers, lawyers, professors and others are appointed.

July 1998 – Task Force unanimously adopts 11 recommendations.

April 1, 2000 – Michigan legislature adopts the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, replacing the Revised Probate Code, to make sure any new laws will follow the task force’s recommendations. For example, when possible, that a guardian consult his or her ward about major decisions.

October 2000 – Amendments to House Bills 5919 and 5921. The first, and so far seemingly only, legislative response to the Task Force’s recommendations. Two separate findings must be made on the record for a probate court to grant guardianship; a guardian cannot be given powers designated to a patient advocate; that guardians must give a copy of their annual report to the court, the ward and any other interested parties.

May 2005 - Gov. Jennifer Grandholm appoints 15 bureaucrats, attorneys, law enforcement officers, insurance administrators, finance experts and elder rights activists to serve on her Task Force on Elder Abuse.

March 2019 - Attorney General Dana Nessel created an Elder Abuse Task Force and with State Supreme Court Justices Richard H. Bernstein and Megan K. Cavanagh went on a statewide listening tour.

Recommended for you