National Guardianship Studies

While there is very little empirical research on adult guardianship, selected national studies have targeted specific aspects:

  • In 1981, Schmidt, Miller, Bell & New published a national study on Public Guardianship and the Elderly (Ballinger Pub.).  The study reviewed existing and proposed public guardianship laws in all states and focused intensively on six state programs.
  • In 1991, the American Bar Association Commission on the Mentally Disabled and Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly conducted the first national study of guardianship monitoring, as reported in Hurme, Steps to Enhance Guardianship Monitoring.
  • In 1994, The Center for Social Gerontology produced a National Study of Guardianship Systems: Findings and Recommendations by Lisi, Burns & Lussenden, which examined the guardianship process intensively in ten states, gathering data from over 700 files.
  • In 2006, the AARP Public Policy Institute and the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging published Guardianship Monitoring: A National Survey of Court Practices, based on survey responses (through listserves, not a nationally representative sample) from close to 400 judges, court managers, guardians, elder law attorneys and legal representatives of people with disabilities.
  • In 2007, the AARP Public Policy Institute and the ABA Commission on Law and Aging produced Guarding the Guardians: Promising Practices for Court Monitoring, including practices drawn from site visits and telephone interviews with selected courts, and a symposium of experts.
  • The University of Kentucky, the ABA Commission on Law and Aging and Prof. Winsor Schmidt engaged in a National Study of Public Guardianship, and published a two part report.  In phase one, the 2005 report, Wards of the State: A National Study of Public Guardianship, included the results of a national survey of public guardianship programs, as well as selected site visits and interviews. In phase two, the 2008 report, Public Guardianship After 25 Years: In the Best Interest of Incapacitated People? included additional site visits and interviews, as well as recommendations and a model statute.  These reports formed the basis of a book by Teaster, Schmidt, Wood, Lawrence & Mendiondo, Public Guardianship: In the Best Interests of Incapacitated People? (2010), published by Praeger.
  • In 2009, the National Center for State Courts’ Center for Elders and the Courts conducted an online survey (through listserves, not a nationally representative sample) on behalf of the Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators Joint Task Force on Elders and the Courts.  The findings focused on the lack of adult guardianship data, and the sufficiency and training of guardians, as reported in Adult Guardianship Court Data and Issues: Results from an Online Survey (2010).
  • Each year the National Guardianship Association produces an annual Legal Review profiling all reported court cases on adult guardianship.  The reviews have focused on pre-adjudications issues, multi-jurisdictional issues, choice of guardian, guardian actions, fees, rights of wards, capacity issues, Medicaid and public benefits, fiduciary misconduct and post-adjudication issues.
  • Read the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) Report on Survey of the Protection and Advocacy Network on Involvement in Guardianship and Conservatorship Issues (January 2017).