Caring for older relatives with declining health, or disabled relatives that are struggling with making competent financial, health, and daily living decisions, can be stressful and difficult for families. In many of these cases, a court appointed guardian will take over the handling of the financial and personal matters of these individuals.
Unfortunately, cases have arisen where the court appointed guardian misuses their power, then proceeds to exert undue influence over the elderly or disabled individual. This can lead to situations wherein the legal guardians refuse to let other concerned family members visit or communicate with their loved one.
This is sometimes done in order to isolate the individual by limiting personal contact. The guardian often convinces their ward that the family members are a threat or should not be trusted. By denying access to the individual, the legal guardian may be violating the rights of these other family members, or worse, taking advantage of their ward.
At least eleven states have passed visitation laws, which have made it easier for relatives to visit and communicate with elderly, sick or disabled loved ones who have been isolated from the rest of the family due to an abusive guardian. Several well-known visitation advocates, including the children of disc jockey Casey Kasem, country music legend Glen Campbell, and actor Mickey Rooney, have been working to change Maryland’s guardianship laws. By sharing personal stories about their difficulties in seeing their own celebrity parents, due to guardianship disputes, these advocates hoped to shed light on the devastating effects that isolation of individuals in guardianship situations can have on entire families.
In April 2018, Maryland Governor Hogan signed into law House Bill 1483, which set forth the duties of a guardian with respect to visitation. Under the new law, a Maryland court may, in those cases where “it is best interest of the disabled person”, establish the “duty to foster and preserve family relationships including, as appropriate, assisting to arrange visitation and communication by telephone calls, personal mail, and electronic communications.”
Proposed Visitation Section Not Signed into Law
Disappointingly, the new law did not implement many of the further reaching changes proposed in the original House bill.
The original legislation included an article called Family Law, Title 15: Visitation, which required that courts grant visitation orders in all cases, unless the elderly or ailing relative is found to be mentally competent and provides objections to the contact.
The new law also did not include the originally drafted provision that required guardians or caregivers to provide notice to family members when the elderly or sick relative is moved to a hospital, other medical facility, or has died.
Both of these provisions were part of the original bill that was passed by the Maryland House of Representatives, but was struck down by Governor Hogan.
Visitation advocates remain hopeful that Maryland will pass a visitation bill with these types of provisions in the future.
Towson Guardianship Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Maryland Families with All Their Guardianship Issues
Filing for guardianship of a family member can be a complicated process. If you are considering seeking guardianship for a loved one in Maryland, or would like to set up visitation or communication with a relative who has a legal guardian, the experienced Towson guardianship lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC are here to assist you with the process. To schedule your free confidential consultation, submit an online inquiry form or call us today at 443-589-0150.
Our offices are conveniently located in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland to serve clients throughout the state including the communities of Cockeysville, Lutherville Timonium, Upper Falls, Phoenix, Riderwood, Sparks Glencoe, Brooklandville, Butler, Stevenson, Glyndon, Monkton, Reisterstown, Pikesville, Owings Mills, Parkville, Boring, Glen Arm, Baldwin, Upperco, and Hyde.