S.B. No. 318
BONDS FOR GUARDIANS OF THE PERSON; COUNTY GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAMS
Governor Bush signed SB 318 on June 18, 1997. SB 318 becomes effective January 1, 1998.
SB 318 does two things: First, it attempts to provide alternatives to corporate sureties for the bonds of guardians of the person when there is no guardian of the estate. Second, it makes it possible for all counties to adopt county guardianship programs.
SB 318 adds Section 702A to the Probate Code, which provides that, when there is no guardian of the estate, the bond for a guardian of the person may be a corporate surety bond, a personal surety bond, a deposit of money instead of a surety bond, or a personal bond. Section 702A further provides that, in determining the appropriate type and amount of bond to set for the guardian, the court is to consider the familial relationship of the guardian to the ward, the guardian's ties to the community, the guardian's financial condition, the guardian's past history of compliance with the court, and the reason the guardian may have previously been denied a corporate surety bond.
Section 702A still leaves it up to the judge to decide the appropriate type of bond.
Prior to the enactment of SB 318, only counties with populations of 2.5 million or more (guess which county that was) could operate a county guardianship program. That population restriction has been removed from Section 702 of the Probate Code, so now any county can operate a county guardianship program. SB 318 also makes changes to Chapter 102 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code so that (1) counties which do not post a guardianship bond under Section 702 must pay the damages assessed against a county employee who serves as guardian and (2) the $10,000 limit on county payments of property damage claims does not apply to property damage claims arising out of the county guardianship program.
The House Judicial Affairs Committee Report on SB 318 states:
Currently, guardians of certain wards are required to post a bond. This bill will set forth the types of bonds required of guardians of certain wards.
In addition, counties may operate guardianship programs without bond. In at least one case, the negligence of the local guardianship program resulted in the depletion of the ward's estate and left the ward without legal recourse against the local guardianship program.
S.B. 318 sets forth the types of bonds required of guardians of certain wards and makes counties which operate guardianship programs without bond liable for actual property damages as a result of actions or omissions by an employee of the county guardianship program when the employee is acting in the course and scope of employment.