CGC and NGA are very different organizations with different missions. The CGC’s sole mission is to provide a comprehensive certification program for guardians and other fiduciaries. Our vision is that every professional guardian will obtain and maintain certification. The NGA is a professional membership organization. See “Myths and Facts about NGA and CGC.”
The Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC) offers two designations that require applicants to meet specific minimum eligibility requirements. Those designations are National Certified Guardian (NCG) and National Master Guardian (NMG). Each requires applicants to pay a fee, attest to specific requirements, and pass a competency exam. They must also affirm they will adhere to the NGA’s Standards of Practice. Certificants are subject to the Rules & Regulations of the program(s) including recertification requirements and disciplinary action.
CGC certification sets a guardian apart from non-certified guardians as someone who has met nationally recognized requirements, including related education or experience, and passed a competency examination. Certification also helps to elevate the profession and provides a comfort level to those responsible for appointing or choosing guardians and conservators for those who need that assistance. Refer to our “The Importance of Choosing a Certified Guardian” webpage.
Becoming a Certified Guardian
From the time you submit your application to become certified to the time you are notified you can schedule your exam can take up to 45 business days. This time period is dependent upon numerous factors including background check verification, educational verification, etc.
Applicants are required to submit an application in which they must attest to meeting the minimum eligibility requirements noted, submit proof of education as well as CEUs required, based upon the education level of the applicant, and submit to a background check. An application fee must be remitted and a passing score received on the competency exam. The exam is based on core competencies designed to measure knowledge of national professional standards. Click here for more information about certification requirements. Click here for more information about the exam.
No. CGC must perform its own background check for each applicant. This is required for CGC’s due diligence and file retention policy and cannot be waived.
The number of continuing education units (CEUs) required to be submitted with the application is determined based upon the education and degree attained by the applicant. The CEUs must be related to the NCG core competencies. The number of CEUs required range from 10 to 30 and must be obtained within the past two years from the date of the application. For those applicants holding an Associates, Bachelors or Master’s degree in a field of study related to guardianship, proof of 10 hours of CEUs must be submitted. For those applicants holding Associates, Bachelors or Master’s degrees in any field outside of guardianship-related studies, a total of 30 CEUs must be submitted. Likewise, those applicants holding a GED or a high school diploma must submit 30 CEUs. Those applicants who are currently licensed or certified as a guardian in a specific state may submit 20 CEUs along with their current license or certification.
No. Those who hold a GED or a high school diploma must also submit proof of attaining 30 CEUs within the past two years of the date of the application in fields of study related to guardianship.
CGC provides the examination in an electronic format taken at testing centers around the nation. Once approved to sit for the exam, the applicant will receive an email from CGC informing them that the testing center will be reaching out with information allowing them to schedule their exam. Applicants should not contact the testing center prior to receiving the approval email from CGC. Please refer to the CGC Exam Handbook found on this page.
It is strongly advised that examinees download the NGA standards of practice (www.guardianship.org) and be knowledgeable on how to apply those standards to various scenarios. NGA also has study materials and guides for those interested in purchasing those documents. Further, the exam questions are also pulled from various federal benefit websites and documents, i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, social security, etc. The questions are directly related to the core competencies of the exam and the percentage of questions on the exam for each core competency can be found here.
The questions on the CA fiduciary exam are taken from the NGA Standards of Practice, the CA Handbook for Conservators, the CA Probate Code, and federal benefit websites and documents, i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, social security, etc. It is strongly recommended that applicants obtain and study those documents. The questions are directly related to the core competencies for the CA exam, which can be found here.
The National Master Guardian (NMG) exam draws mainly on the applicants experience working as a guardian for 3 or more years. Those experiences include all aspects of guardianship including, but not limited to, guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. The questions are directly related to the core competencies of the exam and the percentage of questions on the exam for each core competency can be found here. A sample question can be found here.
The NCG exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions. The questions test for knowledge in specific core competencies identified as being essential for carrying out the duties of a guardian. A link to the core competencies can be found here. The exam questions are taken from various sources including the NGA Standards of Practice, IRS regulations, Medicare/Medicaid guidelines, and other federal regulations.
The NMG exam consists of two sections – 120 multiple choice questions and an essay exam. The questions test for knowledge in certain core competency areas identified by professionals as being essential for carrying out the duties of a guardian. Candidates must answer 5 of 7 essay questions offered. Three hours are allowed for each section of the exam.
Each applicant is assigned a unique number which is shared with approval to sit for the exam. CGC publicizes exam results on the website by listing the unique number assigned to each applicant and “pass” or “fail”. Individual scores are not shared or released with examinees. A passing score for the NCG exam is 73%; passing score for the CA fiduciary exam is 80%; passing score for the NMG multiple choice and essay exams is 75%. CGC also sends an email with results to the email address provided on the original application.
You may re-take an examination (subject to any state restrictions on the number of times an exam can be taken) by submitting a retest application and submitting the appropriate fees. If you do not pass the examination within one year from the date on which the exam was initially failed, the application will be denied. An applicant whose application is denied may subsequently seek to become certified by starting the application process again.
The certification period is two years for NCGs and three years for NMGs. Applications for recertification must be remitted prior to the expiration of the current certification term. Applications for renewal can be found after logging in to the certificant’s account from the CGC website.
Those certificants carrying the NCG designation must submit 20 CEUs (equivalent of 20 hours) of related coursework every two years. Those certificants carrying the NMG designation must submit 30 CEUs (equivalent of 30 hours) of related coursework every three years. Related coursework is defined as any formal educational training that is related to the core competencies for the certifications. Pre-approved CEUs can be found on the CGC website by clicking here. However, pre-approved CEUs are not required for submission with the renewal application. As long as the coursework is related to the core competencies, it will be approved. CGC does audit 20% of the CEUs submitted annually; therefore, certificants must have proof of attendance in their files if CGC requests that documentation.
It can take up to 30 business days for you to receive approval of your renewal application. You may be asked to submit more CEUs, signature pages, or other required documents for approval.
CGC sends reminders to those due for recertification 60 days prior to expiration, 30 days prior to expiration, and upon expiration. Certificants due for recertification may also receive phone call reminders.
Filing a Complaint
The Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC) has a two-tiered certification process, certifying National Certified Guardians (NCG) at the entry level and National Master Guardians (NMG), with a higher level of experience and responsibility. The CGC has authority over only those individual guardians who are certified as NCGs or NMGs.
The CGC may deny, suspend or revoke a certification, or impose other disciplinary action on an individual NCG or NMG. The process for reviewing a complaint against an individual guardian is quite extensive and is not taken lightly. The process is outlined in detail in the CGC Rules and Regulations. The list of disciplined guardians can be found on the CGC website at www.guardianshipcert.org.
Individuals wishing to file a complaint against a CGC certified National Certified Guardian or a National Master Guardian must provide evidence in writing of a violation of the National Guardianship Association Ethical Principles or Standards of Practice, including any change in status that affects their eligibility to be certified as defined in the CGC Rules and Regulations. CGC will not accept anonymous complaints. Letters of complaint should be addressed to the Executive Director, Center for Guardianship Certification, P.O. Box 5704, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110. Complainants wishing to have a guardian removed from a case must contact the appointing court to determine that court’s procedure for such a complaint. For more details, visit the “make a complaint” section of our website.
CGC can only entertain complaints against those individuals who hold CGC certification as an NCG or an NMG. To verify whether a guardian is CGC certified, visit the website at www.guardianshipcert.org and click on the “Find a Guardian” link. If the person’s name is listed, they are a current certificant. If not, CGC does not have jurisdiction over that individual or their actions and it would be recommended to contact an attorney, an elder law advocate, and/or the court.
General Guardianship Questions
The term “guardian” can be interchangeable with the words “fiduciary” and “conservator.” All of these terms can include those serving in a professional capacity, as a public guardian, a family guardian, a limited guardian, a plenary guardian, a standby guardian, a successor guardian, or a volunteer guardian. Further, individuals serving as a “guardian” can be guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, or both. For definitions of these terms, visit the NGA website at www.guardianship.org and search for their standards of practice document.
While some states may have certification, licensure, registration or other requirements related to those serving as legal guardians, not all states do. You should check your state’s particular guardianship laws and regulations for specific requirements. You can also click here for more information.
For a guardian to be appointed, a court must determine that an individual is “incapacitated.” While state definitions of incapacity vary, it typically means partial or complete functional impairment making them unable to manage their personal or financial affairs due to mental illness, mental limitations, physical illness or limitations, or chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication or other causes. In certain circumstances, a guardian of a minor may be appointed since a minor is considered incapacitated as a result of their age. Guardianship should be a last resort, and only as necessary to promote and protect the well-being of the individual. Guardianship should include the least restrictive means necessary, and the preference is for a limited level of guardianship, rather than full (plenary) guardianship.
Guardians are appointed by the courts under state laws designed specifically for this purpose. Court procedures typically require due process protections for the alleged incapacitated person and result in the entry of court orders to remove and delegate to the guardian only those individual rights that the proposed protected person is incapable of handling.
It is important to research your state and local regulations required to start a business. It is strongly recommended you consult with an attorney and an accountant to ensure you have set-up your business to your greatest benefit. The NGA has additional information about starting a guardianship business and can be reached by visiting www.guardianship.org.
Generally, a guardian is entitled to reasonable compensation. When appointed as guardians family members often serve without compensation. On the other hand, a professional guardian is not related by blood or marriage to the individual and receives financial compensation to carry out the statutory responsibilities given by the court. In all cases, the guardian is legally entitled to reasonable compensation for the services performed. What is reasonable compensation depends on the types of service being provided and the skill of the guardian. The court will review the compensation paid to the guardian in the annual account filed by the guardian.