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Professor Kohn Serves as Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s “Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Oth‎er Protective Arrangements Act”

Posted on Monday 7/24/2017
Nina Kohn

On July 19, 2017, at its 126th annual meeting in San Diego, CA, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approved the “Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Oth‎er Protective Arrangements Act.” David M. Levy L'48 Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Online Education Nina A. Kohn served as Reporter—or principal drafter—of the Act. 

“The Act represents a big step forward, integrating modern understandings of disability rights, trust law, and family law,” explains Kohn. “I expect, and am already hearing, a very excited response from key stakeholder groups.”

The “Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act” is an updated version of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act, originally promulgated in 1969 as part of the Uniform Probate Code, and revised in 1982 and 1997. The new version of the act is a modern guardianship statute that aims to better protect the rights of minors and adults subject to a guardianship or conservatorship. The Act encourages courts to use the least restrictive means possible and includes a set of optional forms to help courts implement its provisions effectively.

“The Uniform Law Commission is a quasi-government body that conceives and creates legislation for states in order to bring clarity and stability to important issues of state law,” explains Kohn. “Some of the country’s most important laws are the result of the Commission’s work.” The organization is comprised of more than 300 lawyers, judges, and law professors, appointed by the states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. “When drafting uniform laws, the ULC uses a highly transparent consultation process that brings state-appointed commissioners together to work in collaboration with stakeholders,” says Kohn. “Proposed legislation then comes before the ULC annual meeting to be debated and, if successful, adopted as a new uniform law.” 

“My role as the Reporter on the new uniform act was to be the principal drafter of the legislation,” says Kohn. “The Act brings modern legal theory and understandings to bear on guardianship practice, including a fuller appreciation of the need to engage people with disabilities in decisions about their lives. The aim is not only to create better rules, but to provide those working in the system with the guidance and incentives needed to ensure that those rules will be followed. If you want to make change, you need to get rid of barriers that prevent people from doing the right thing and to incentivize the right behavior.”

Kohn says she will next serve on a ULC enactment committee to support states’ adoption of the new uniform guardianship law. “Some states may adopt the new law in its entirety, but more often than not, states adopt either large portions of a uniform law or use concepts within it to re-write their own law—whatever path is chosen, all these outcomes are welcome.”