National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

NARPA 2012 Workshops:


Reforming Adult Guardianship:
Moving Beyond Rights on Paper

Sally Zanger & Tom Behrendt


Adult guardianship has historically meant the wholesale removal of one’s right to self-determination. A number of states have revamped their laws, but culture and practice remains the same.  

In this session we will examine how change happens and how to make change, including discussing the need to work on many many fronts, to collaborate with the enemy, and to use the power of the press. We will describe the changes made to the Connecticut statute in 2007 and the persistence of old habits. We will brainstorm with you how, five years later, to change the culture and practice to conform with our good law. 


Resources / Materials / Links:

WINGSPAN — The Second National Guardianship Conference, Recommendations

State-Level Adult Guardianship Data: An Exploratory Survey -  Erica F. Wood, ABA Commission on Law and Aging (for the National Center on Elder Abuse). August 2006

Highlights of Public Act 07-116 -- Conservatorship Reform in Connecticut. Sally Zanger, Connecticut Legal Rights Project

Conservatorship Standing On One Foot: The law requires what we would want for ourselves. Sally Zanger, Connecticut Legal Rights Project

Duties of conservators under Connecticut Public Act 07-116 - a short list

Connecticut:  Bolstering Procedures for Appointment and Appeal. From State Adult Guardianship Legislation: Directions of Reform – 2007. Erica Wood, ABA Commission on Law and Aging.

State Supreme Court Holds Lawyers, Conservators Accountable In Probate Cases, Hartford Courant, story on the Gross v. Rell decision, March 23, 2012

Court says probate lawyers can be held liable if they disregard clients, Connecticut Law Tribune report Gross v. Rell, April 2, 2012

The issue of immunity of guardians and court-appointed attorneys for respondents in Connecticut guardianship (conservatorship) proceedings: The Second Circuit's decision in Gross v. Rell, 2009 WL 3429602 (2d Cir. 2009)

The Connecticut Supreme Court's decision in Gross v. Rell

Can Court-Appointed Conservators Be Sued?

Decision protects rights of people with disabilities - July 2012 AARP Bulletin on Gross v. Rell

An Elderly Man's Lawsuit Could Bring Probate Reform, Hartford Courant, October 16, 2011

Read Summary of AARP's amicus brief (PDF)

Read NDRN's amicus brief; appendix to NDRN amicus brief (PDF)

Probate Abuse Stretches Far Beyond Connecticut: Federal Probe Finds Hundreds Of Cases Exploiting Elderly's Estates, Hartford Courant, November 2, 2010

Connecticut On Threshold Of Much-Needed Probate Court Reform, Hartford Courant,  May 22, 2009

Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act - National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws  (1997)

Uniform Probate Code - See Article V (Protection of Persons under Disability and their Property)

Guardianships: Little Progress in Ensuring Protection for Incapacitated Elderly People - US Government Accountability Office Testimony Before the Special Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate

Illinois Guardianship Reform Project. Chicago: Equip for Equality. Contains task force findings and recommendations on determinations, monitoring, training, public education, and other issues. Morris A. Fred, J.D., Ph.D. (2001)

Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code - Article V (an outline). Robert D. Fleischner, Esq., Center for Public Representation. June 2009

Guardianship Standards and Procedures - Robert D. Fleischner, Center for Public Representation, June 2007

Wisconsin's Landmark Guardianship Reform. From State Adult Guardianship Legislation: Directions of Reform – 2006. Erica Wood, ABA Commission on Law and Aging


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