After extensive conversations with national experts from the public and private sector including the federal health and human services department, who share our desire to see transformative changes in guardianship across the country, it is that the current foundational aspects of guardianship will remain extremely resistant to change primarily because of the profit motive that energizes judges lawyers and guardians to exercise control over and abuse of innocent individuals and families. Consequently we must come to the conclusion that the system as it exists today must be replaced as quickly as possible by a system that would have the potential to give assistance to those people who needed it without taking away their rights and without sponsoring the ruination of their estate and their very lives.
We must begin to re-imagine what currently passes for guardianship or whatever replaces it as a time limited epoch in a vulnerable individual’s life. It must not be a life sentence… it must have a beginning middle and end. it must be difficult to impose and easy to complete. It must allow a person in need to retain dignity and self worth and the opportunity to partake in life to the fullest reasonable extent. It should encourage a return to full independent living and in cases where that is not possible, it should create a pathway to assure that expressed wishes of a lifetime be honored and do so without stripping away rights and impoverishing the needy among us while abusing family.
Though very nascent and imperfect today, the most promising developments towards that goal are in the field of supported decision-making. Agencies within the federal government,legal community and private sector are working diligently to create an environment in which supported decision-making will eventually supplant guardianship.
While this solution does less than we would like to help people get out of their current guardianships right now, it does make large strides towards the prevention of future guardianships and may actually result in a model for enlightened attorneys to present compelling and winning motions for restitution rights of those already captured.
The links below are a starting point for those of you who would like to work with us to quickly gain baseline information on this topic.
Going forward, we hope to assist individuals all over the country as well as their attorneys in the preparation of what’s known as “suggestions of capacity”. The suggestion of capacity of the first step in requesting that rights be returned to adjudicated wards. There have been successful motions that have resulted in reversal of guardianships, but more work is needed in the area.
National Consumer Law Center – Representing Clients in Guardianship Actions: Winning the Case for Supported Decision Making– HTML version
National Consumer Law Center – Representing Clients in Guardianship Actions: Winning the Case for Supported Decision Making – PDF version
We need you to contribute your intellectual power to the effort.
If you are ready to contribute, you can indicate your willingness by joining AAAPG (if you haven’t already done so) by using the sign-up form in the right-side bar. If you’ve already joined AAAPG, drop me an email and let me know how you would like to contribute to our efforts to end guardianship as it is now practiced today.
Sam Sugar MD