The National Guardianship Association offers a comprehensive guide for fiduciary standards of practice. Those who are familiar with the requirements for Arizona Licensed Fiduciaries will realize that they are in certain ways different than the NGA standards.
For example, the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration (ACJA 7-202 - Fiduciaries) requires a Licensed Fiduciary to visit the ward at least every 90 days, whereas the NGA requirement is that the guardian maintain a caseload that allows for each ward to be visited on a monthly basis. Interestingly, a non-professional serving as guardian for a family member or for no fee has no requirement to ever visit the ward, because the ACJA does not apply to non-licensed individuals and ARS Title 14 makes no mention of visit requirements in the sections governing guardians of incapacitated adults.
The NGA standards are considered industry best practices. They are not enforceable by the Arizona courts or the Fiduciary Audit team; however, they in many ways mirror our state's standards. Many of our members are also National Certified Guardians through the National Center for Guardianship Certification, and we have a few National Master Guardians in Arizona as well. Those of us who have voluntarily attained national credentials are bound to uphold these best practices in order to maintain these additional credentials.
The NGA standards are excerpted below and are available in their entirety here:- Preface
Developing standards for guardians has been an ongoing challenge for the National Guardianship Association (NGA). Not only has the profession undergone rapid change since the original seven standards were written in 1991, but the basic issues have been, and remain, imprecise and difficult to define for a national, membership-based organization. A basic philosophical element complicating the process has been the need to strike a consistent balance between standards that represent an ideal and those that recognize practical limitations, whether for a family guardian or for a professional guardian.
In July of 1991, the NGA adopted a previously published Code of Ethics to guide guardians in their decision-making process. The next task of the NGA was to formulate specific standards to be applied in the day-to-day practice of guardianship. The seven original standards of practice that were written and adopted by the NGA in 1991 have now been expanded to cover more of the duties and responsibilities that face courtappointed guardians today.
The same lengthy discussions that took place in 1991 occurred again during the most recent updating of the standards. These discussions centered on the need to state what is “right” versus the need to recognize and accept the inevitability of the status quo undefined too many clients, not enough funding or staff. While we all agree that such restrictions are all too commonplace, we also feel that little is gained by simply accepting a substandard or unacceptable state of affairs. The NGA has, therefore, adopted standards that we feel reflect as realistically as possible the best or highest quality of practice. In many cases, best practice may go beyond what state law requires of a guardian.
In reading this document, it is important to recognize that some of the standards enunciate ideals or philosophical points, while others speak to day-to-day practical matters. Both approaches are critically important. It is not our ambition to prescribe a precise program description or management manual. Rather, we have sought to shape a mirror that practitioners and funders can use to evaluate their efforts. The standards also reflect the mandate that all guardians must perform in accordance with current state law governing guardianships and certification of guardians. To ensure consistency in the way the standards are applied, the following constructions are used: “shall” imposes a duty, “may” creates discretionary authority or grants permission or a power, “must” creates or recognizes a condition precedent, “is entitled to” creates or recognizes a right, and “may not” imposes a prohibition and is synonymous with “shall not.” The guidelines that appear in some standards are suggested ways of carrying out those standards.
This document embodies practices and standards from a number of professional sources. As such, it sometimes makes unavoidable use of legal and medical “terms of art” where they would commonly and most accurately be used by professionals who work in the particular area. In addition, the field of guardianship itself makes use of terms that vary widely from state to state. “Guardian” and “ward” are the terms used here to simplify the many references to these roles. Where points apply to professional, as opposed to family, guardians, they are indicated. “Guardian,” as used in the standards, means guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, or guardian of the person and estate, depending on the standard being addressed.
In this work we have drawn on a number of collective sources. First and foremost have been NGA members who have contributed extensive time and energy and valuable input into the development of these standards. The Model Code of Ethics for Guardians, developed by Michael D. Casasanto, Mitchell Simon, and Judith Roman and adopted by the NGA, has formed the foundation from which the standards were developed.
Other very important sources that helped in the creation of our standards of practice are the U.S. Administration on Aging, the AARP, the Center for Social Gerontology, the Michigan Offices of Services for the Aging, and the state associations from Arizona, Washington, California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. We thank everyone listed above and others for their ongoing commitment to the profession of guardianship. The 2003 edition of the NGA Standards of Practice incorporates language that came forth from Wingspan 2001, the National Conference on Guardianship Reform. The NGA Ethics and Standards Committee is proud to announce that the NGA Standards of Practice have been acknowledged by this national group of guardianship experts and are being endorsed as the model standards to be followed by all guardians in the United States