The Route to Conservatorship Reform

For the past eight years, Spectrum Institute has been showing judges, lawmakers, administrators, disability rights advocates, and conservatorship reform activists the way forward. The sign markers we have placed along the route have included conference materials, administrative complaints, public meeting presentations, policy reports, guidebooks, legal commentaries, amicus curiae briefs, letters, and webinars. We have identified the flaws and fixes. We have matched the solutions with the officials who have the jurisdiction to adopt and implement them. We have literally handed conservatorship reform advocates a template for change titled “A Path Forward.” Yet, although we have led people to the refreshing water […]

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Disability and Spirituality – Recovering Wholeness

This feature story focuses on the issue of religious freedom for adults with developmental disabilities.  It discusses the research, education, and advocacy done by Rev. William C. Gaventa, author of Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness.  As the book description explains: “Disability and spirituality have traditionally been understood as two distinct spheres: disability is physical and thus belongs to health care professionals, while spirituality is religious and belongs to the church, synagogue, or mosque and their theologians, clergy, rabbis, and imams. This division leads to stunted theoretical understanding, limited collaboration, and segregated practices, all of which contribute to a lack of […]

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End The Fee for All in Probate Conservatorships

More than 1,700 viewers have watched this one-hour video in which panelists explain how they witnessed or experienced the “fee for all” dynamic depleting the assets of conservatees. The moderator discussed how the Funding and Fees Review Project of Spectrum Institute plans to tackle this problem with a thorough study of what has been happening in local courts throughout the state. The project will issue a major report with recommendations on how to tame this asset-eating beast.  To watch the video, click here.

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Chief Justice Lags Behind Peers on Conservatorship Reform

By Thomas F. Coleman Daily Journal / Dec.15, 2021 “Lagging” is defined as “falling behind in movement, progress, or development; not keeping pace with another or others.”  That perfectly describes California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye when it comes to conservatorships reform. Despite having knowledge of major deficiencies with every part of the probate conservatorship system, the chief justice has remained silent on the plight of seniors and adults with disabilities who are targeted by these so-called protective proceedings.  In contrast, she has been quite outspoken and proactive for other populations and for other areas of the law needing reform. Cantil-Sakauye […]

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Different Brains®: Respecting Neurodiversity

By Emmi Deckard Advocates of the neurodiversity movement argue that neurodiversity is a valuable and natural form of human diversity that should be considered similar to other forms of diversity such as race and sexuality. Since society has often been built around neurotypical brains, neurodiverse individuals can sometimes be excluded. Despite estimates that one in seven people are neurodiverse, little is currently being done to increase the inclusion of neurodiverse individuals in society. Neurodiversity refers to differences in brain function and behavioral traits. ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and more are included under the umbrella of neurodiversity.  One […]

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Barbara Buckley: Mentoring Guardianship Lawyers

A conversation with the executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada about their advocacy and defense services in adult guardianship proceedings.  The Legal Aid Center’s Guardianship Advocacy Program provides representation to seniors and adults with disabilities who are facing or under guardianship to ensure the adult’s legal rights are protected.  In order to provide legal representation to as many adults as possible, the Legal Aid Center developed a training manual that provides advocacy guidelines for pro bono attorneys who take adult guardianship cases through Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project.  The manual warns would-be pro bono attorneys: “Accepting […]

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Podcast Episode 5: Dr. Sam Sugar: An Iconic Warrior for Guardianship Reform

Dr. Sam Sugar is the founder of a nonprofit education and advocacy organization known as Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship. Since 2013, Dr. Sugar and AAAPG have been in the national forefront of the guardianship reform movement, focusing the attention of the media and the public on the plight of victims of guardianship abuse. To listen to this 30-minute podcast and to access prior podcast episodes, click here. Feature Story. Dr. Sugar is also the author of Guardianships and the Elderly: The Perfect Crime (Square One 2018). The book is described as a survival guide to understanding, dealing with, and […]

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End The Fee For All

Commonwealth Club Online Forum December 8, 2021 from Noon to 1:00 p.mRegister Today How Judges Are Raiding the Assets of Older Adults and Lining the Pockets of Conservatorship Attorneys This forum will explain how the assets of seniors and people with disabilities are often drained in order to pay the fees of a variety of attorneys in probate conservatorship proceedings. With vague or nonexistent rules and a lack of accountability, judges are making ad hoc and often arbitrary orders requiring conservatees and proposed conservatees to pay unreasonable or excessive legal fees. Not only are they required to pay the fees of […]

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Zoom Webinar Will Explain New Law in California

It’s not just for lawyers.  The public may attend the webinar too. Presentation: This one-hour presentation will explore the duties of attorneys as they fulfill the zealous advocacy requirements of  AB 1194, a conservatorship reform law that takes effect on January 1, 2022.  Participants also will receive a rundown of 10 potential legal and professional dangers of neglecting the duty of care, as well as an analysis of such issues as third-party standing to file motions, complaints, appeals and civil actions against attorneys who do not provide zealous advocacy to their clients and to the public entities that employ, appoint or fund […]

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Podcast Episode 4: Town Hall: Conservatorship Reform is Long Overdue

This episode of the podcast series focuses on a Zoom Town Hall where victims of the California conservatorship system shared their stories, local elected officials in Alameda County acknowledged the need for reform, and #FreeBritney activists discussed their movement to rid superstar Britney spears of the confines of conservatorship.  Most of the presentations involved the negative experiences that many seniors and their families have had with conservatorship proceedings.  Many of the complaints focused on the greed of attorneys and the complacency of judges.  Before offering several specific proposals to reform key parts of the conservatorship system, attorney Thomas F. Coleman, […]

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