A situation that happens all too frequently in Colorado is one where an individual who is elderly, facing physical or mental disabilities or who is at the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease is abandoned by their loved ones. A judge often appoints these “at-risk” individuals a guardian when this happens. These appointees often abuse their power, though. There’s a program in place to combat this.

In 2017, the Colorado General Assembly created the Office of Public Guardianship (OPG). The latter was to be administered by the Judicial Department. They were supposed to serve as a “guardian of last resort” if a ward was neglected or abandoned with no one else to turn to. No one has been helped by the OPG in the past two years because of budgetary constraints.

Things changed on July 1, though. New legislation has made it possible for the county and city of Denver to receive money from the state to pay for a 3-year pilot program.

Since there’s now funding, an OPG panel would be charged with recruiting a director. They’ll be hired as a Colorado Judicial Department employee. Their director will be allowed to hire four guardians. They’ll be given three months worth of training. Each guardian would initially be charged a caseload of 10.

The lack of funding caused the initial piece of legislation to never get off the ground in 2017. State lawmakers have a plan for making sure that the 2019 bill does, though. They have allocated $427,000 from the general fund for the OPG. They intend to raise the additional $408,386 that they need to run the program by increasing probate fees. The OPG previously rejected state funding and instead unsuccessfully requested donations to support its efforts in 2017.

Deciding whether you need a guardianship or conservatorship isn’t difficult. Although often used together in the same sentence, the two concepts are different from one another. A guardianship is used to cover the care of custody of an individual. A conservatorship is put in place to address the assets and finances for someone else.

If you’re concerned about a loved one’s well-being, then an attorney in Broomfield can help you make sense of which is right for your unique situation.