§ 29.41. Appointment of Special Masters.
Whenever a petition for the appointment of a guardian of an alleged incompetent residing in a state mental hospital or state center for the mentally retarded is filed in the Court of Common Pleas wherein the alleged incompetent is domiciled, pursuant to Section 5511 of the Act of June 30, 1972, P. L. 508, as amended by the Act of December 10, 1974, P. L. 867, known as the Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Act, 20 Pa.C.S. § 5511, it is hereby ordered that each judge of the Court of Common Pleas, when hearing such a petition, shall adopt the procedures and requirements for the provision of counsel to the alleged incompetent and his guardian set forth at Section 3 of the Order of July 7, 1978, No. 1 Alleged Incompetents Special Masters Docket, authorizing the appointment of Special Masters to hear said petitions.
1. The Special Master shall conduct such hearing at the state institution wherein the alleged incompetent resides, whether or not the institution is in the county of domicile. The Special Master shall have such powers as are conferred upon the court by 20 Pa.C.S. § 5501 to schedule hearings at the convenience of the parties, provide notice of hearing, require the presence of all necessary parties by the issuance of subpoenas, administer oaths to parties and to witnesses, and conduct the hearing.
2. The Court Administrator may promulgate regulations and standard petition forms to insure uniform hearing procedures on a statewide basis.
3. The alleged incompetent and his guardian shall be represented by counsel and, unless private estate counsel exists or is appointed by the Court of Common Pleas, the Court Administrator shall take necessary steps to insure that such counsel is provided.
4. Unless a court-appointed guardian exists prior to the filing of this petition, the Institutional Guardian of the facility in which the alleged incompetent resides shall be appointed.
5. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Special Master shall submit his findings and recommendations to the appropriate judge of the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the petition was filed in the form of a Proposed Order for action by the court.
6. The Special Master and appointed counsel, if any, shall receive such reasonable expenses and fees as are approved by the Court Administrator.
By Order dated July 7, 1978, No. 1 Alleged Incompetents Special Masters Docket (8 Pa. B. 2098), this Court established a procedure for the appointment of a guardian for alleged incompetents residing in state mental hospitals or state centers for the mentally retarded, which are filed in the Court of Common Pleas wherein the alleged incompetent is domiciled, pursuant to Section 5511, supra. Said Order contemplated the appointment of Special Masters in those Judicial Districts where existing judicial manpower is insufficient to handle the expected volume of such petitions, necessitated by Vecchione v. Wohlgemuth, et al., No. 73-162 (U.S.D.C.-E. Pa.). This Order clarifies the intention of that Order that the alleged incompetent and his guardian be represented by counsel at all petition hearings, regardless of who conducts said hearing.
The provisions of this § 29.41 adopted July 28, 1978, 8 Pa.B. 2098, amended May 18, 1979, effective May 19, 1979, 9 Pa.B. 1607.
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