Sen. Brian Williams Files Legislation to Protect Assets in Missouri ABLE Accounts

This week, Senate Bill 426 was heard by the Senate Progress and Development Committee. This important piece of legislation, which I have sponsored for the 2019 legislative session, states that the assets held in an ABLE account will not be considered the property of a conservatorship estate, with the exception of accounts in the charge and custody of a public administrator. ABLE accounts allow Missourians with disabilities to establish a tax-free savings plan without losing federal needs-based benefits, so it is extremely important to ensure that the funds in the account are secure.

I filed this legislation partially because of a Missouri couple’s struggle to become a legal guardian of their adult daughter. They were forced to report their daughter’s ABLE account as assets to be used for conservatorship. Unfortunately, the family was required to post bond to be able to take control of their daughter’s ABLE account. Missouri families should not be forced to become a conservator simply because of their family member’s ABLE account.

One of my fellow senators introduced Senate Bill 230, which concerns the venue in cases of appointments of conservatorship and guardianship. This legislation would require proper venue to take place in the county where the minor, incapacitated or disabled person is domiciled, and if there is no domicile, then the venue must take place where the minor, incapacitated or disabled person has the most connection. If venue for guardianship and conservatorship are in different counties, the venue will take place in the county of the guardianship. This act seeks to simplify the process of establishing venue while ensuring the highest quality of care for the minor, incapacitated or disabled person.

On Tuesday, March 12, my colleagues and I discussed SB 230 on the floor of the Missouri Senate. I drafted an amendment to SB 230 that contained the language of SB 426. I noted the similarities between SB 230 and SB 426, and I thought the legislation provided an excellent opportunity to amend SB 230 to SB 426. My amendment was adopted, and the bill was passed by my colleagues. Currently, the legislation still needs to receive another round of approval before moving to the Missouri House of Representatives for consideration. These positive changes in regard to venue of guardianship and conservatorship and the protection of assets in ABLE accounts have the potential to improve the lives of countless Missourians. I wanted to combine these two excellent pieces of legislation in the hopes that SB 230 will reach the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.

Thank you for reading this week’s legislative column. If you have any questions regarding anything going on in the Missouri Senate, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 573-751-4106. It is an honor and privilege to represent each of you in the Missouri Senate.