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Corporate Guardianship: Application Process

This page describes the paperwork needed to become a corporate guardianship business. You must complete the paperwork in Sections I and II before completing the paperwork in Section III.

Section I: Organize the Private Nonprofit Corporation or Unaffiliated Association with the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI)

The Wisconsin Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) Corporate Guardianship Program (CGP) verifies entity type with the DFI when processing applications. If DFI status is not complete or not correct, the CGP pauses application processing and requests revision of application materials.

Per Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.01, applicants must be a private nonprofit corporation organized under Wis. Stat. chs. 181, 187, or 188, or an unincorporated association under Wis. Stat. ch. 184.

These are limited instructions provided for organization under the most prevalent organization type, Wis. Stat. ch. 181. The DFI allows applicants to choose between completing form DFI-102 online or form DFI-102 as a fillable PDF document (PDF). It also offers form instructions (PDF). The name of a corporate guardianship business must end with the abbreviation "Inc." (refer to Article 1 of DFI-102 instructions). The CGP requests revision of application materials if applying corporations don't have "Inc." at the end of the corporation's name.

Section II: Caregiver background checks

The Caregiver Law, under Wis. Stat. § 50.065, requires two types of caregiver background checks initially and every four years:

  • Entity background check for the owner and program manager are requested and paid for by the corporate guardianship. The entity background check is processed by DQA. You can learn how to request an entity background check online by visiting the Regulated Entity Background Check Process webpage.
    Note: per the Wisconsin Caregiver Program Manual, P-00038 (PDF) chapter, "If the owner/entity operator is a corporation or other type of business that does not have a single owner (e.g., domestic corporation, non-stock corporation, partnership, limited liability company, etc.), then the organization must designate one principal officer to legally represent the organization as the entity operator for the purposes of fulfilling the background check requirements."
  • Caregiver background checks for guardian representatives/employees are completed by corporate guardianships for their employees, volunteers, students, and contractors [see chapters 1 and 2 of the Wisconsin Caregiver Program Manual, P-00038 (PDF)].

Results of employee background checks must be maintained in employee records in accordance with Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.09(4)(d).

Visit Caregiver Background Checks for details and required forms.

Section III: Corporate Guardianship program Status Application

Completing the Corporate Guardianship Status Application, F-60820 (Word) is the last step in the application process. Please note these updated instructions that are different from the directions printed on page 3 of the application:

The guidance below can help you understand the type of information to include in your grievance procedure and business plan.

Grievance procedure

Wisconsin Admin. Code § DHS 85.05(2) requires that an application for corporate guardian include a copy of the applicant's written grievance procedure for use by wards and interested parties. The intent of this procedure is to support each client's right to voice grievances. It also aims to assure that after receiving a complaint/grievance, the corporate guardianship agency:

  • Actively seeks a resolution.
  • Keeps the client informed of its progress toward resolution.

Wisconsin Admin. Code § DHS 85.13(1)(h) requires that a ward or interested party be able to file a grievance without retaliation. The corporate guardianship agency shall have policies and procedures in place to provide that no retaliation will be threatened or imposed against any client who files a grievance. This also applies to any person, including an employee of the agency, who helps a client file a grievance.

The grievance policy should include, at a minimum:

  • Information on how to file a grievance: A process for informing the ward and other interested parties of the agency's grievance procedure verbally and in writing.
  • Timely intake of grievances: A process for timely intake of both emergency and non-emergency grievances.
  • Template for written grievances: A template that the ward/interested party can use to submit a written or formal grievance.
  • Investigation procedure: The procedure that the agency will use to review and investigate grievances. This may include a process:
    • To resolve grievances informally if possible.
    • For the ward/interested party to submit a formal grievance if the informal resolution is not acceptable.
    • For internal review of the grievance by a manager, board member, or other staff member.
    • To notify the ward/interested party of the result of the review.
    • That invites a third party to review the grievance and assist with resolution as needed. The third party can be an advocacy agency, such as the:
      • Ombudsman office.
      • Aging and disability resource center.
      • County human services agency.
      • Disability Rights Wisconsin agency.
  • Timeline for grievance resolution: Timelines for each step in the grievance process.

The entity is required to provide Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) complaint information per DHS 85.13(2). Include the following as the final step in the grievance policy to meet the requirement:
If wards or persons acting on behalf of clients have a corporate guardianship complaint or are dissatisfied with a corporate guardianship's grievance resolution, they have the right to file a complaint with the DQA.

Business plan

  • Executive summary:
    • Describe the business and the program manager's professional background.
    • Which services will the entity provide (Guardian of Person, Guardian of Estate, Rep Payee, Conservatorship, other)?
    • Who is the entity's target clientele (anyone the court determines is incompetent or focused on individuals with a particular disability such as intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, serious & persistent mental illness, or degenerative brain disorders)?
    • Will the entity use a board? If so, what are the board's roles?
  • Business description and vision:
    • Where is the business located? (Physical and mailing addresses)
    • If there a mission statement or business philosophy, what is it?
    • Do you anticipate any changes in the near future?
  • Market analysis:
    • Contact Adult Protective Services (APS), Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and/or Register in Probate of counties the entity anticipates serving to assist in determining need for corporate guardians as well as county specific requirements (ex: surety bonds, contracts). Every county operates slightly different. Some counties have bond/insurance requirements and/or compensation/reimbursement limits/guidelines.
    • Review Wis. Stat. § 54.72 and Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.14(6) regarding Guardian compensation and reimbursement.
  • Program operation(s):
  • Organization and management: How is this business managed and run? Include information about:
    • Legal issues, such as bonds, insurance, communication, etc.
    • Avoiding conflicts of interest as required by Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.12.
    • Management of personnel/personnel files.
    • How will organization and storage of ward records be maintained to meet Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.15 and security of files/HIPPA?
    • Include an organizational chart or board of directors listing (if applicable).
  • Financial management and staffing projections:
    • What is the business financial plan?
    • Include projections, budgets (start up and annual), and performance, for the next few years (refer to information gathered from counties).
    • What accounting or bookkeeping systems will be in place/used?
    • These systems should ensure that business operating funds are kept separate from wards' funds and also ensure a separate and complete accounting of each ward's funds as required in Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.12(6).
  • Staff development: Document a plan for training and staff development to ensure that employees are initially and periodically trained in accordance with Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 85.10:
    • Job responsibilities.
    • Prevention and reporting of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of ward property.
    • Ward's rights and grievance procedures.
    • Information regarding needs and services for each ward.
    • Information about local resources.
    • Best practices for corporate guardians (such as those developed by the Wisconsin Guardianship Association or the National Guardianship Association).
    • Agency policies and procedures.

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Questions about this application process?

Last revised February 20, 2024