Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program (GAFEDP)
Since November 1, 2015, the Office of Court Administration (OCA) has managed the Guardianship Compliance Project (GCP) to provide additional resources to courts handling guardianship cases. On September 1, 2019, the Office of Court Administration (OCA) initiated our Guardianship Abuse, Fraud, and Exploitation Deterrence Program (GAFEDP) to provide assistance to the Courts relating to guardianship matters. Our guardianship compliance specialists will assist in reviewing guardianship files to identify reporting deficiencies by guardians; auditing annual accountings and report their findings back to the Judge; and report to the courts any concerns of potential abuse, fraud or financial exploitation being committed against a ward under guardianship. The program is offered at no expense to the county.
- OCA will also maintain an electronic database to monitor filings of inventories, guardian of the person reports, and annual accountings.
- Courts are required to participate in the program if selected. Courts may apply to OCA to participate.
- The OCA director may notify the Judicial Conduct Commission of any concerns with judges who fail to act upon concerns raised by compliance specialists.
OCA will file annual reports on January 1 of each year including number of courts involved, number of guardianships reviewed, number of cases out of statutory compliance, number of cases reported to courts concerning potential issues, and status of technology developed to monitor guardianship cases.
Implementation of the Guardianship Abuse Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence Program (GAFEDP)
While the reforms implemented to date have improved the guardianship system in Texas, a key to the reforms’ success is ensuring compliance with the laws and reviewing guardianship activities to spot potential abuse, fraud, and exploitation. To provide a safety net for all vulnerable persons under the care of guardians, the Judicial Council proposed expanding the GCP statewide as proposed in OCA’s legislative appropriations request and SB 31 (86th R.S., Zaffirini et al).
Monitoring and Audits
The annual reports of the well-being and the financial annual accounts should be monitored, and a sample of the reports should be audited to ensure that the data submitted is complete and accurate. Monitoring and auditing would also create a deterrence against theft and fraud.
Development of a Statewide Online Guardianship Reporting Portal
The Texas Office of Court Administration has been developing an automated, electronic tool for filing required reports, annual accountings and other documents in guardianship cases. This system will provide a method to notify courts when required reports are delinquent and to review annual accounting reports for potentially fraudulent activities. Planning a pilot project in Cameron and Montgomery Counties.
Training and Resources for Courts and Clerks
Only by pro-actively training court personnel and proposed guardians on the fiduciary duties of guardianship, as well as auditing reports and accountings to detect and deter fraud and exploitation, will Texas be adequately braced to ensure the safety and well -being of this vulnerable and growing population. In addition to our online training of guardians on fiduciary record-maintenance and reporting duties, we recommend ongoing training and professional development for court and clerk staff on the collection and reporting of required guardianship data, as well as training on the fiduciary duties of guardians to inform the direction and guidance of proposed guardians.