COURT OF CHANCERY PURSUES NEW INITIATIVES
NEW ACCOUNTING TOOL FOR GUARDIANS AND TRUSTEES
Guardians and trustees will soon have a new tool to assist them in filing required accountings with the Court of Chancery. The accountings are reports to the Court of all income, investments, and expenditures made on behalf of the ward or estate and must be filed periodically to ensure the proper use of funds. Since many individuals who serve as guardians or trustees have difficulty preparing the required accounting, the Court has found a way to assist them in this sometimes complicated process. It is currently working with Vel Micro Works, Inc. of Hockessin, Delaware and the Judicial Information Center of the Administrative Office of the Courts in putting the finishing touches on an interactive online computer program that will walk filers through the accounting process. The online program, which is expected to be ready in October, will ask filers questions and place their information in the proper location on the accounting form. Filers will have secured passwords and will be able to sign on whenever they wish so that they can add new expenditures or income at any time, with the program automatically adding each new entry and saving the information.
Use of the new accounting program will be free of charge and will be mandatory for all filers since, in addition to making the process easier for the public, it will also provide accounting reports that are uniform and easier for the Court to process. In order to ensure access to all who need to file accountings, the Court plans to make a computer terminal available in each courthouse. Once the online program is available, the Court will begin work on the second step of the process which will be to provide for the online filing of completed accountings, along with other aspects of guardianship and estate filings.
REVIEW OF GUARDIANSHIP PROCESSES
It’s not every day that an organization asks for an outside review of their processes from start to finish, but that’s exactly what the Court of Chancery is doing this summer by inviting the National Guardianship Association to review its guardianship practices. The Court requested the review as part of its move to statewide standardization of its guardianship procedures and its efforts to ensure that those reflect the best possible standards for handling guardianships.
The review will start with the legal foundations for guardianship procedures contained in the Delaware Code and Court Rules and will move on to look at all court processes relating to guardianships from initial filing forward. In addition, the review team will conduct a survey to obtain the input of all those involved in the guardianship process, including guardians, attorneys, the Office of Public Guardian, other state agencies, and hospitals. Once the review is completed, the Association will prepare a report to the Court on their findings and will make recommendations for any ways they believe the process could be made more user-friendly. Delaware will be only the second state in the nation to undergo a complete review by the Association.
NEW GUARDIANSHIP MONITORING PROGRAM
The Court of Chancery’s new guardianship program, which oversees the services provided by guardians, is up and running and is currently seeking volunteers. Volunteers are needed to serve as the "eyes and ears" of the court by making home and facility visits to the disabled and elderly who are subject to guardianship. Volunteers can work on their own time schedules, but must have their own transportation and a valid driver’s license. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to contact Sherri Harmer at (302) 255-0547 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.