ABOUT THIS BOOK
The human stories behind the headlines exposing the truth about the guardianship system.
The state-run guardianship system, called conservatorship in some states, is largely unregulated, ill-understood, and increasingly populated by financially motivated predators. Just how the secretive world of guardianship works and its real-life effects remained a mystery to most until the very public case of pop star Britney Spears. It suddenly became clear that those conscripted into the system lose all their civil rights in the process. Currently, there are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million Americans under court control, but precise figures are not known as no government entity keeps track of citizens who have lost the right to determine their own fate.
Established in the late 1800s, the guardianship system was designed to assist the most vulnerable citizens: the elderly and the physically or intellectually disabled. While guardianship has been beneficial to many “wards of the court,” this little-understood process can be a judicial rollercoaster from which there is seldom an escape, and which often leads to financial devastation for the ward and their families. Each year, fifty billion dollars belonging to wards are placed under the control of court appointees, an obvious temptation to bad actors who are in a position to control these funds. As investigative journalist Diane Dimond discovers, the number of exploitive and abusive guardianship cases nationwide demands our urgent attention. This book also provides concrete steps that families can take to protect themselves, as guardianship can happen to any one of us at any time.