Bill aims to re-write state guardianship law | KOB 4
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Bill aims to re-write state guardianship law

Kai Porter
January 18, 2018 06:54 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A bill being proposed at the Roundhouse aims to protect the state's citizens placed under court-ordered guardianship.

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Senate Bill 19 completely re-writes New Mexico's current guardianship law. It’s a long and complex bill coming in at 165 pages. State Sen. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, said the state currently has a guardianship law in place, However, it needs to be improved.

"It hasn't worked real well," he said. "Although reports have been required and guardianships have got responsibilities, those folks have abused the process. They’ve found a way to make the situation ugly, taken some of the money that doesn’t belong to them and we’re trying to straighten that all out."

For example, the feds closed Albuquerque-based guardian firm Ayudando last year after its owners were charged with embezzling millions of dollars from their clients' trust accounts.

“The bill corrects a lot of the problems we’ve had," White said.

The bill essentially makes the court-appointed guardianship process more transparent by improving notification of guardianship court proceedings and making the records public. It also improves visitation rights and includes bonding requirements for guardianship agencies.

"So if there's a loss of funds the bonding agency will have to make up for that," White said.

 If passed the bill would apply to new guardianship cases starting in January 2019.

"There are two parts to the guardianship system," White said. "First is to take care of the individual to make sure they’re taken care of physically they’ve got places to live and they’re taken care of properly. But it’s also the finances part of it, so you might say it’s a two-pronged approach to make sure both of these things are taken care of."

Despite this short 30-day session, White said he's optimistic the bill can make it to the Gov. Susana Martinez's desk.

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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