The ABA Zoom meeting on Guardianship issues on August 23, 2021 was very interesting. But my takeaway was that the entire intrusive paternalistic, ageist system of how we deal with the vulnerable in America is based on a concept that cannot stand in our constitutional democracy. The Constitution and its amendments were created to defend and protect the individual from government as well as the courts. In particular the 14th amendment (among others) is routinely violated in guardianships around the country every day. Why has not the ABA risen up to defend and protect and assist the millions of Americans who have thusly been abused and exploited by the guardianship machine?
What is amazing to me is that that ABA whose stated mission is
“to serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession”
has instead supported and defended the worst type of lawyer based exploitation of the disabled and aged in America. The ULC, paid for by the ABA has tried for years to promote UGPPA which is a re affirmation of the stance that guardianship should be the primary way we “help” the vulnerable and infirm. In fact, UGPPA as well as any other nibbling around the edges reform would only serve to perpetuate the misleading mirage that the courts should be the arbiter of what is best for any individual in need of assistance.
Guardianship–especially plenary guardianship– is no longer acceptable in America and must be replaced.
I realize that replacing it is going to be near impossible in the short term and that we may have to be content to make incremental changes to the most egregious aspects of the system for now– and that may mean adopting the UGPPA as a stopgap–but if the ABA is to be honest about its concern for victims of guardianship, it must shift its priorities from condoning and promoting litigation that impoverishes and exploits victims and families while it massively enriches its members to earnestly promoting, funding and supporting research, accountability, legislation and advocacy in the states and at the Federal level. The ABA should consider positions that would remove the financial incentive from the creation of–at the very least–the most obviously egregious cases.
There is now an army of victim-advocates hell bent on ending this awful stain on our democracy. the ABA would be wise to endorse and support them.