Clark County now has a hotline to help manage calls about problems with the guardianship system.
That number is 702-671-4614. Another option is sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The county’s chief judge said so many concerns have been raised that the hotline will help streamline the complaint process.
“Our fundamental responsibility is to promote citizens’ trust and confidence in the guardianship process,” Chief Judge David Barker said Tuesday at a Clark County Commission meeting.
Long-running problems with the system that handles about 8,500 cases each year were laid out in a series of Review-Journal articles published in April.
A guardian is appointed after someone is deemed mentally incompetent and declared a ward of the county. In most cases, that guardian is a family member, friend or county social worker. In many cases, especially where the person has substantial wealth, a private professional guardian can be appointed.
Cases highlighted in the Review-Journal showed a lack of oversight by the courts that allowed people who were wards of the county to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to their private professional guardians. In those cases, the court failed to enforce state laws, such as the requirement to file a yearly accounting of money spent on behalf of wards, and ignored the wishes of wards and their families.
Barker requested funding for both a compliance officer position and an investigator that he hopes will add better monitoring to individual guardianship cases.
County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak said after the meeting the county will have to determine if they can afford to fund both positions.
“I think the county staff was supportive of the compliance officer,” Sisolak said. “But I have no idea about the investigator.”
Barker said during the meeting he has reached out to national experts as well as Washoe County Chief Judge David Hardy, a proponent for guardianship reform, for insight and ideas for a panel aimed at addressing guardianship problems statewide.
Clark County in April called for a Blue Ribbon Panel to analyze guardianship problems locally. Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty said Friday he will push for a statewide committee.
Barker also reiterated his desire to improve the process by further formalizing the complaint process, standardizing forms and procedures, and implementing a guardianship monitoring system.
“In cooperation with this commission, the judicial branch is actively addressing the guardianship issues raised and will pursue the best avenues and resources to develop solutions and improve the handling of guardianship cases.”
Sisolak said the county will look to see if they have the ability to fund the positions Hardy was requesting.
Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at email@example.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead.