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Guardianship Replace or Reform: Where Do We Go From Here?

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: November 17, 2021
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  • The Role of the Attorney in Representing a Client Subject to Guardianship
  • Uncovering Guardian Abuses
  • Replace or Reform Guardianship
  • Supported Decision Making
  • 2021 Fourth National Guardianship Summit
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: November 17, 2021

For NY - Difficulty Level: For experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)


The National Guardianship Network convened the Fourth Guardianship Summit in May 2021 and adopted 22 recommendations to improve and reform the adult guardianship system. A bill was recently filed in Congress prompted by the Britney Spears conservatorship and the #FreeBritney grassroots movement. Even Hollywood is intrigued by guardianship as depicted in the fictional film of criminal guardians "I Care A Lot". The general public and attorneys who practice in this area need to understand these new developments. Webinar attendees will hear a discussion of the summit recommendations; ways to uncover abuse by guardians, and the pros and cons of creative and novel approaches to decision-making, including the concept of replacing guardianship with person-centered systems. Speakers will address the attorney's role and ethical responsibilities in contested guardianships.

This program was recorded on November 17th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Sally Balch Hurme

Author & Elder Law Expert

Sally Balch Hurme is an elder law expert and author who has led the national conversation on many of the legal issues of concern to older persons and their families. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Newcomb College of Tulane University and her J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law.

Sally Hurme’s legal career spans public service, private practice, associations, and a wealth of volunteer commitments. Among other positions, she has served as a city magistrate in Alexandria, Virginia; an attorney adviser with the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the U.S. Department of Justice; and a staff attorney with the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. She also worked for nearly 25 years for AARP, and she has taught as an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law and The George Washington University Law School. Because of her wealth of knowledge on elder law issues, Sally Hurme is quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, The New York Times, Money, and other national media, and she has lectured worldwide on elder abuse and guardianship. She has written more than 20 law review articles on elder law topics, and she is the author of the award-winning series of Checklist books about elder law for consumers published by the American Bar Association and AARP.

A long-term member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the American Bar Association, and the Virginia and District of Columbia bars, Sally Hurme lives in Bridgewater, Virginia, and enjoys kayaking on the Shenandoah River with her grandchildren.

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Melanie Bray

Assistant Director of Legal Services
Disability Rights Louisiana

Melanie Bray is the Assistant Director of Legal Services at Disability Rights Louisiana. She received her JD from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.

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Anthony Palmieri

Deputy Inspector General, Division of Inspector General
Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller, Palm Beach County

Anthony Palmieri is the Deputy Inspector General and Chief Guardianship Investigator for the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller for Palm Beach County and the Florida Clerks' Statewide Investigation Alliance; his work improves integrity and better protects the most vulnerable, silent, & innocent citizens of Florida.

He is an nationally-recognized subject matter expert & speaker on Silver Collar Crimes & fraud in guardianships. Anthony has advised legislators, bar associations, advocates, & courts throughout the nation. He crafted and spearheaded Florida's Clerk Guardianship Auditing Bill (HB635, 2014 & HB1187, 2018) & was one of the fifteen lawyers deeply involved with Florida's Guardianship Proceedings Bill (HB5, 2015). He has given keynote, plenary & breakout presentations at numerous national conferences including: Aging in America, Nat'l Aging & Law Inst., Nat’l Colloquium on Guardianship, Nat'l Adult Protective Services Assoc., Nat'l Guardianship Conf., & World Congress on Adult Guardianship (Washington, DC & Seoul, Korea).

The Division of Inspector General is accredited by the Florida Commission for Law Enforcement Accreditation.

Anthony is the Administrative Coordinator for the Clerks' Statewide Investigation Alliance which provides investigative services and legal assistance to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Office of Public & Professional Guardians.

Anthony was an invited expert to the White House Conference on Aging. He was appointed to the National Center for State Courts Guardianship "Red Flags" Expert Panel & a U.S. delegate to the World Congress on Adult Guardianship (Berlin, Germany). He is called upon as an expert by the U.S. GAO & the Florida Office of the Attorney General. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court to the Florida WINGS committee. In 2020, Anthony’s contributions to the field were acknowledged as a Barry University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and by the Netflix’s Dirty Money “Guardians Inc.” episode. In 2021, he was interviewed for “Framing Britney Spears” (#freebritney), quoted by the New York Times, BuzzFeed, Daily Mail, & ABA Journal, and appointed as a voting delegate at the decennial National Summit on Guardianship. The consensus-building assembly, facilitated by the Syracuse U. College of Law, developed recommendations for the future of guardianship in the U.S. such as eliminating plenary guardianships and requiring investigators to be independent from courts and decision-makers. Also in 2021, he was named Vice Chair of the Guardianship Improvement Task Force.

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Robert D. Dinerstein

Professor of Law & Director, Disability Rights Law Clinic
American University Washington College of Law

Robert Dinerstein is professor of law and director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic at American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL), where he has taught since 1983. His previous positions include serving as the law school's acting dean (2020-2021), associate dean for academic affairs from (1997-2004), associate dean for experiential education (2012-2018), and director of the clinical program (1988-96 and 2008-2018). He specializes in the fields of clinical education and disability law, especially mental disabilities law (including issues of consent/choice, capacity and supported decision-making and other alternatives to guardianship), the Americans with Disabilities Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, legal representation of clients with mental disabilities, and disability and international human rights.

Dinerstein has made numerous presentations on clinical legal education and disability law, among other topics, and has published a number of books, articles, chapters and other writing on these subjects.

He is the author/editor of two books. He is co-editor and co-author, with the late Stanley Herr and Joan O’Sullivan, of A Guide to Consent (AAMR, 1999). He is co-author, with the late Stephen Ellmann, Isabelle Gunning, Kate Kruse and Ann Shalleck, of Lawyers and Clients: Critical Issues in Interviewing and Counseling (Thomson West 2009) and the accompanying Teacher’s Manual.

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Nina A. Kohn

Professor of Law & Faculty Director of Online Education
Syracuse University College of Law

Nina A. Kohn is the David M. Levy Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Online Education at Syracuse University College of Law, a faculty affiliate with the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute, and a member of the American Law Institute. She is also the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Elder Law with the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School. She has served as a Visiting Professor at Yale Law School and at the University of Maine School of Law.

In her prior role as Associate Dean for Online Education, Professor Kohn developed JD interactive, the nation’s first fully interactive online J.D. program. In her current role as Faculty Director of Online Education, she guides the program’s ongoing development and supports faculty teaching online.

Professor Kohn’s scholarly research focuses on elder law and the civil rights of older adults and persons with diminished cognitive capacity. Her work has appeared in diverse for a including the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Washington University Law Review, and The Washington Post. Her recent articles have addressed family caregiving, supported and surrogate decision-making, financial exploitation of the elderly, vulnerability and discrimination in old age, the practical and constitutional implications of elder abuse legislation, the potential for an elder rights movement, and legal education.

The author of Elder Law: Practice, Policy & Problems (Wolters Kluwer, 2d ed. 2020), consistent with her research interests Professor Kohn teaches elder law, family law, trusts and estates, torts, and an interdisciplinary gerontology course.

Professor Kohn has served in a variety of public interest roles, including Reporter for the Third Revision of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act. She currently serves as the Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s Study Group on the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act; Co-Chair of the Elder Rights Committee of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section of the American Bar Association; Co-Director of the Aging, Law, and Society Collaborative Research Network; and Vice Chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Mental Disability.

Professor Kohn earned an A.B. summa cum laude from Princeton University and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard University. She clerked for the Hon. Fred I. Parker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Following her clerkship, she was awarded a fellowship by the Skadden Fellowship Foundation to provide direct representation to nursing home residents and frail elders. She is a past recipient of the College of Law’s Res Ipsa Loquitur award recognizing excellence in teaching, and Syracuse University’s Judith Greenberg Seinfeld Distinguished Faculty Fellowship.

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David Godfrey

Senior Attorney
ABA Commission on Law & Aging

David M. Godfrey, J.D., is a senior attorney to the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging in Washington DC. He is responsible for the ABA’s role in the Administration on Community Living funded National Center on Law and Elder Rights and for producing the ABA National Aging and Law Conference. David’s expertise includes supported decision making, advance care planning, health care decision making, legal service delivery, legal ethics, and LGBT aging. Prior to joining the Commission he was responsible for elder law programming at Access to Justice Foundation in Kentucky.

Mr. Godfrey earned his B.A. with honors at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and his J.D. cum laude from the University Of Louisville School Of Law in Kentucky.

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Erica Wood

Assistant Director (Ret.)
ABA Commission on Law and Aging

Erica Wood, now retired, was the Assistant Director at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. She has spent much of her time over almost four decades on adult guardianship issues.

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