On March 30, 2015, I offered commentary and support regarding Assembly Bill 325 regarding the licensure of private professional guardians in Nevada. I largely followed my notes, which appear below. Others speaking in support of the bill had made particularly repugnant remarks that I attempted to address when I had the opportunity to speak, so I do not have specific notes in that regard. – Homa
Good Afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Homa Woodrum and I have been a Nevada licensed attorney since 2007 and have found myself involved with adult guardianship, elder abuse, and elder exploitation litigation in my practice.
I am here today to thank the committee for their service and time and to voice support for legislation for licensure of private professional guardians in the State of Nevada. I will say that I am disturbed by the inflammatory rhetoric employed by many in support of this bill. Licensing is not a punitive tool.
Simply put, attorneys are what I like to call professional pessimists. We deal in worst case scenarios. Unlike many in support of this legislation, I esteem many private professional guardians and the work they do, the challenges they face. I am here today, however, to say the adversarial dynamic of our judicial system is not well suited to the protection of an often voiceless population. I will add that I also esteem the court and the work done there in guardianship.
Yes, NRS Chapter 159 covers the definition of private professional guardians, and even standards of estate management for guardians in general, but where a ward is already being served by a non-family member in guardianship, the likelihood of effective oversight becomes low given that courts rely on competing viewpoints as a path to justice.
In other words, the court is limited in its ability to sua sponte raise concerns. If objections are not raised in court, matters pass into court orders without ideal scrutiny.
Guardianship involves everything from sales of real estate, end of life decision making, and account management – all fiduciary relationships in nature.
Sadly, in my career, often the tools to exploit and deprive elderly individuals of the fruits of their life’s work are legal in nature. For example: powers of attorney, trusts, estate planning, and yes, even court authorized guardianship can be used to gain access to people who are without decision making capacity.
This is highly relevant and my Latin pronunciation is lacking so I’ll say it in English, but the Roman poet Juvenal wrote “who will guard the guards themselves?”
I feel this bill is an important step in answering the need for scrutiny, transparency, and improved elder rights in the state of Nevada.