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Guardianships: Individual Rights, Statutory Updates, Uniform Laws, and Abuses

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 91 minutes
Recorded Date: October 14, 2020
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  • What is a Guardianship or Conservatorship?
  • Guardianship rights
  • Alternatives to guardianship
  • Best practices for oversight & monitoring of guardians
  • Relief available for abuses of the guardianship
  • Current reform efforts
  • COVID-19 effects on end of life decisions
Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Recorded: October 17, 2020


This seminar will provide attorneys with a holistic approach to assist adult clients that need to create a guardianship or clients currently under a court-ordered guardianship. The focus will be on the rights of a person subject to a guardianship and their family and friends by exploring alternatives to guardianship such as supported decision-making and termination of guardianships. Best practices for the oversight and monitoring of guardians and relief available for abuses of the guardianship process will be presented. Current reform efforts such as the need to collect accurate data and provide uniform state legislation in this discreet area of law will be shared. Finally, how COVID-19 has complicated end of life decisions and related forms of elder abuse will be covered.

This program was recorded on October 14th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Karren Pope-Onwukwe

Law Office of Karren Pope-Onwukwe, LLC

Karren Pope-Onwukwe is a prominent elder law and disability rights attorney, bar leader and community activist; her practice is centered around helping clients plan for aging, disability, and wealth transfer. Attorney Pope-Onwukwe also serves as General Counsel to small and non-profit business entities and towns. Attorney Pope-Onwukwe is the editor of the 2010 edition of Practical Aspects of Adult Guardianship published by the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers.

Governor Martin O'Malley appointed Karren to the State Advisory Council on Quality Care at the End of Life where she served from 2007 until 2017. Karren is past president of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association and co-founder and past co-chair of the Elder Law Section of the Prince George’s County Bar Association, and an active member of J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association. The County Executive appointed Karren as chair of the Prince George’s County Aging Advisory Committee (2004-2012). Karren is the past president of the Prince George’s chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland.

Attorney Pope-Onwukwe sits on the Trustee Board of Reid Temple A.M.E. Church and the Prince George’s County Hospital Foundation Board. In 2017 she was appointed to the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission and to the Prince George's County Adult Public Guardianship Review Board.

Karren is currently a member of the Maryland Attorney General's COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force. In 2018 Karren was appointed to the American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging. She was also appointed to the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division governing Council as well as the following publication boards: Book Board and Voice of Experience Editorial Board. In 2017, Karren was appointed to the Opioid Summit Steering Committee of the American Bar Association Senior Lawyer’s Division. In 2016, Karren was appointed vice-chair of the Program Committee for the American Bar Association Senior Lawyer’s Division and in 2013, she was appointed the vice-chair of the National Bar Association’s Elder Law Task Force.

In 2018 Karren was awarded the Consumer Advocate of the Year Award by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. Karren received the 2012 Good Citizenship Award from the North Atlantic Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Maryland Governor's Leadership in Aging 2012 Trailblazer Award. Karren was named the 2009 Distinguished Alumna for the University of Maryland University College. The Baltimore Daily Record named Ms. Pope-Onwukwe as one the 100 Top Women of Maryland in 2014.

Attorney Pope-Onwukwe earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Kentucky University; a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland University College and a Juris Doctorate degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. Karren has been blessed with one adult son, Charles, Jr.

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Deirdre Lok

Assistant Director & General Counsel
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Deirdre M.W. Lok, Esq. is the Assistant Director and General Counsel for The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. She manages the operations of the shelter, including providing legal services to victims in Supreme Court, Housing Court and Family Court.

An Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School, Ms. Lok directs the law school’s HELP (Helping Elders through Litigation and Policy) Clinic. She is a frequent speaker on the issue of elder abuse and the law, and has guest lectured at Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Cardozo Law School, Touro Law, Hofstra Law School and CUNY Law School and has provided training to attorney’s through the New York State’s Judicial Institute, the Queens Bar Association, and the Bronx Bar Association.

Ms. Lok is appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the Age-Friendly NYC Commission, is chair of the American Bar Association’s Senior Lawyer’s Division, Elder Abuse Prevention Committee, and served as Chair of the Policy and Procedure Subcommittee of the New York State Committee on Elder Justice.

Prior to joining The Weinberg Center, she was a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Oahu, Hawaii and an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office where she focused on domestic violence cases. She is the recipient of the New York Law Journal 2017 General Counsel Impact Award.

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Dari Pogach

Staff Attorney
American Bar Association

Adult guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, and supported decision-making. Ms. Pogach has worked in adult guardianship reform and alternatives to guardianship for several years.

Before joining the Commission, she provided direct legal services to indigent clients with disabilities. She represented individuals with mental illness as a staff attorney at Disability Rights D.C. of University Legal Services, the District of Columbia’s protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities. She assisted individuals with developmental disabilities seeking alternatives to guardianship as a staff attorney at the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities.

Ms. Pogach has also represented respondent parents in child abuse and neglect cases in New York City. She has substantive experience in policy and legislative advocacy, and has testified at numerous legislative hearings, provided comments to proposed regulations, and written public reports with recommendations for improving local laws and practices. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Washington College of Law.

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Michael A. Kirtland

Senior Partner
Kirtland & Seal LLC

Michael A. Kirtland is a partner in the Colorado Springs law firm Kirtland & Seal, L.L.C. His practice is concentrated in the areas of trusts and estates, estate planning, wills, probate and ancillary probate, elder law, guardianship and conservatorship, and ethics issues related to those areas. Mr. Kirtland was admitted to practice in Alabama in 1994 and in Colorado in 2004. He is also admitted to the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Alabama and the District of Colorado, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, the U.S. Tax Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

He attended Coe College, where he received his B.A. in 1974, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he received an M.P.A., summa cum laude, in 1981. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Faulkner University in 1993, and his LL.M. in taxation from the University of Alabama in 1999.

Mr. Kirtland is a member of the El Paso County, Colorado, and American bar associations. He is past chair of the El Paso County Bar Association Probate Section; chair of the Colorado Bar Association (CBA) Elder Law Section, and a member of the Trust and Estate and Alternative Dispute Resolution sections. He is a member of the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division, where he is a past council member, and the sections on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, of which he is past chair of the Elder Law Group. Mr. Kirtland is a member of the Ethics Committee of the El Paso County Medical Society. He is a past vice president and a member of the board of directors of the National Elder Law Foundation.

Mr. Kirtland is past chair of the Judicial Performance Commission for the Fourth Judicial District of Colorado. He is a member of the CBA Ethics Committee. He belongs to the Alabama State Bar (where he is a registered mediator) and the American Inns of Court in Colorado Springs. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and a member of the National Elder Law Foundation, the Air Force Association, and the Military Officers Association of America. Mr. Kirtland is one of only seven Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELAs) in Colorado.

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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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