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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 3, 2014 02:17 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Guardianship and D.L.H. case
 
I am reintroducing Senate Bill 117 of last session. In October 2012 the Joint State Government Commission’s Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Laws issued a report entitled “Guardianship Law: Proposed Amendments to the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code.” After a thorough review of Chapter 55 of the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, Title 20 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, and related uniform laws, the advisory committee recommended extensive changes on subjects such as the venue for a guardianship proceeding, the petition and hearing for the appointment of a guardian, who may be appointed a guardian, and the removal and discharge of a guardian. The advisory committee also specified the powers and duties of a guardian.

In June 2011 the same advisory committee issued a report entitled “Powers of Attorney and Health Care Decision-Making.” This report, in part, discussed the case of In re D.L.H., 2 A.3d 505 (Pa. 2010). D.L.H. raised the issue of whether a guardian has the power to make decisions relating to the withholding or withdrawal of health care necessary to preserve life unless there is a specific court order granting that power to the guardian. The advisory committee recommended that the health care decision-making powers of a guardian should be equivalent to those of a health care representative. The appointment of a guardian already has significantly more safeguards than the statute requires of health care representatives so the incapacitated person should be well-protected. This recommendation was also included in Senate Bill 117 and it is carried over in the reintroduction.

The Joint State Government Commission’s Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Laws is a standing group of attorneys and judges from across the Commonwealth who assist the General Assembly by recommending improvements to the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code and related statutes. The advisory committee has been in existence since 1945 and is credited with drafting most of the laws relating to trusts and estates. After reaching consensus on its legislative recommendations, the advisory committee presents its recommendations to the Task Force on Decedents’ Estates Laws, which is a bicameral and bipartisan panel of legislators. As chairman of the task force, I generally introduce the advisory committee’s recommendations, including the reintroduction of Senate Bill 117.



Introduced as SB568