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Iowa Guardianship and Conservatorship System will be Major Focus of Iowa Law Center

The  National Health Law and Policy (NHLP) Resource Center at the University of Iowa College of Law has announced that a major focus of its future activities will be the Iowa guardianship and conservatorship system.  These activities will be conducted through the NHLP Resource Center’s Institute on Guardianship and Conservatorship.

The NHLP Resource Center was founded in 1981. In the past several years the Resource Center has undertaken a series of initiatives and projects with respect guardianships and conservatorships and other vehicles for substitute decision-making for persons who lack decision-making capacity.

The Resource Center’s Institute on Guardianship and Conservatorship is dedicated to promoting a guardianship and conservatorship system that meets the needs of vulnerable Iowans and to promoting the implementation of the Iowa Supreme Court’s Guardianship and Conservatorship Reform Task Force.

For more than a year, the Reform Task Force has sought ways to reform a flawed system upon which 22,000 of the state’s residents rely. The Iowa Supreme Court created the Task Force to develop recommendations for “effective and efficient guardianship and conservatorship laws, practices and procedures.”

The University of Iowa College of Law, together with the Drake University Law School, has furnished staff and financial support for the Task Force. Dean Gail Agrawal and Professor Josephine Gittler have served as members of the Task Force Steering Committee. In addition, Professor Gittler has served as Task Force coordinator and reporter.

The NHLP Resource Center’s Institute on Guardianship and Conservatorship will continue the collaboration with the Iowa Supreme Court and Task Force participants consisting of over 70 leaders of the bench, the bar, state agencies, and the disability and aging communities.

It will provide education, conduct pilot projects, engage in research, and advocate for an improved guardianship and conservatorship system.

“I am pleased that the Resource Center at the College of Law will continue to be part of an ongoing effort to ensure that our guardianship and conservatorship system is responsive to the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Dean Agrawal.

The Iowa Code authorizes the Probate Court to appoint guardians and conservators for adults and children. The former make decisions for them regarding their residence, health care, and other needed care while the latter manage their financial affairs.

The many Iowans subject to guardianship and conservatorship include adults with disabilities–Alzheimer’s, Disease, other dementias, intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses, and brain injuries. They also include children who require a guardian because their parents were unable or unwilling to fulfill their parental responsibilities and children who require a conservator to help manage financial assets they received through an inheritance of legal settlement.

CONTACT: Professor Josephine Gittler (