pa estate planning lawyer

New Guardianship Rules May Affect You

New rules adopted in Pennsylvania will bring major changes to the guardianship process, which are expected to take effect in York County in December 2018. 

The goal is to improve Court oversight of guardianships and to protect the interests of incapacitated adults. Increased information gathered will help Courts have consistent review of reports, identify trends, and target potential problem areas to protect the interests of this vulnerable group.  There are several ways these changes may affect you.

As part of the general public:

It will become more important than ever for an adult to have a valid Power of Attorney, which offers the only way to avoid a guardianship proceeding in the event of mental incapacity.  A Power of Attorney is a relatively simple and inexpensive document which should be part of any good estate plan. Proper advance planning may avoid the cost of a guardianship proceeding, which is considerable and ongoing – a drain on finances, time, and the emotional well-being of families affected, and, in some cases, make it difficult to use the person’s assets for his or her benefit.  

This is not only an issue for the elderly.  Unfortunately, mental incapacity can result not just from aging or age-related conditions, but also from the result of severe car accidents or health conditions not specifically related to age.

While it is easy to dismiss guardianship issues as affecting a small segment of the population, if you are affected, the consequences for you and your family may be severe.  Proper advance planning can easily eliminate any potential issues in this area. This small effort on your part can provide future peace of mind to you and your family.

As a legal guardian:

If you are already a legal guardian to an incapacitated adult, the impact of the new rules will hit very close to home.  Increased requirements will place a greater burden on you. Required electronic filings (e-filings) will change the way you interact with the Court system; going forward, you will have to file your annual reports online, not by paper filings.  Increased Court oversight will also demand greater attention to record keeping and strict compliance with filing deadlines. Non-compliance may result in serious consequences.

A variety of information sources are available to assist guardians with these new demands.  You should receive official notices which provide information about creating a portal account in the Guardianship Tracking System.  There is also a short video posted on the Clerk of Orphans’ Court website page (www.yorkcountypa.gov) for added guidance.   

If you have questions about this or anything related to your estate planning, we can help.  You can start the process by joining us for one of our upcoming workshops.  Click here to find the topic and date best for you and we’ll see you soon.

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.

special needs planning york pa

Special needs planning


Bellomo and Associates recently did a Facebook live event for special needs families to help them understand the importance of planning for their children with special needs. It was a live two-hour presentation that also hosted a full group of people in the workshop room at Bellomo and Associates.  The event was a huge success, and we have received great feedback from the special needs community about its positive impact on the families.

We do weekly estate planning and Medicaid preparation workshops in our office, and typically do about eight workshops a month in our office, and about another two to four a month out in the community.  However, we rarely have the opportunity to do a full two-hour presentation for families, and this recent event provided that. I give presentations to groups all over the country, but I was especially excited about this event. I enjoyed the process of creating the program and completely new PowerPoint slides in order to be able to give a full two-hour presentation on the topic.  

Families with children who have special needs often do not know where to turn to receive information about public benefits and what happens if their children have too much money or if a family member wants to leave a child with special needs money upon death.  The landscape is often confusing and overwhelming. Thus, when Jessica from Easter Seals asked us to do this event, we jumped on the opportunity.

The presentation itself covers everything on the basics from powers of attorney to guardianships, as well as about how to give money to a child with special needs in a way that will not disqualify the child from government benefits. It also covers how people with special needs can have money of their own and still be able to continue benefits and also potentially continue to receive money or other inheritances and such. We received great questions from both the live audience and the Facebook live community, and have gotten great feedback since the event as well.  

Because we want other families with children with special needs to be able to benefit from this event as well, we are leaving the recording of the live event on our Facebook page so it can be watched in the future. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed presenting it.  

If you or somebody you know has a child with special needs, please watch the video, and contact us if you have any further questions. We will be happy to meet with you.  Just contact us by clicking here.

Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.