We're Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong (Brandeis Series in Law and Society) (Hardcover)

We're Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong (Brandeis Series in Law and Society) By Diane Dimond Cover Image
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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.  

About the Author

Diane Dimond is an award-winning freelance journalist, author, syndicated columnist, and former television correspondent who specializes in crime and justice topics. She has appeared on National Public Radio, Hard Copy, Today, MSNBC, CNBC, and Court TV, and she has written for Newsweek, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, the New York Post, Real Clear Investigations, and the Albuquerque Journal. She is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case, Cirque Du Salahi: Be Careful Who You Trust, and Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box.

Praise For…

“Dimond’s ambitious book We’re Here to Help uncovers the devastation caused by mercenary guardians and conservators who exploit their court-appointed powers over vulnerable people. . . . With elements of true crime and self-help, We’re Here to Help advocates for systemic reform as it diagrams the labyrinth of guardian and conservator legal proceedings via wrenching cautionary tales.”
— Foreword Reviews

“This book provides clear evidence of the problems within the US guardianship and conservatorship system and how easily it can affect anyone at any time. Readers interested in law, civil rights, and stories about everyday people will be drawn in quickly, but it’s a book for everyone.”
— Library Journal

We’re Here to Help is very well written. The book is both easy to read and well documented. The author provides readers with a snapshot of the national landscape by telling stories of celebrities and ordinary citizens alike who have been victimized in state guardianship proceedings.” 
— Thomas F. Coleman, the Spectrum Institute’s Quarterly E-Newsletter

We’re Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong is a rare and illuminating book about how guardianships and conservatorships are routinely mishandled in our courts. Dimond’s well researched case studies of how judges, lawyers, and guardians collude to profit from the fortunes of the elderly and the disabled are an eye-opener. We’re Here to Help is a testament to the immediate need for reform of our guardianship/conservatorship laws.” 
— Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.), author of Her Honor: My Life on the Bench. . . What Works, What’s Broken, How to Change It

“Dimond has written a searing, insightful examination of guardianship that all too often fails those it is supposed to help. As Dimond reveals by close investigation of guardianships gone bad, it is too susceptible to exploitation and theft, and worse, abuse of the so-called ‘incapacitated’ person. Dimond identifies the need for adequate funding of oversight and supervision of guardians. The need is great. The time to act is now.”
— Lawrence A. Frolik, professor of law emeritus and distinguished professor of law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

“A tenacious reporter and skillful writer, Dimond uses compelling stories of real people to pull back the curtain on a guardianship system shrouded in secrecy where power, greed, and influence all too often intersect with devastating consequences for the people the system is intended to protect —and their loved ones. A powerful book.” 
— Kent Walz, lawyer, journalist, and former editor-in-chief of The Albuquerque Journal

“These stories will break your heart. Private stories and public, the pattern emerges: warring siblings or estranged spouses, a willingness to destroy a person’s waning years to pirate their sometimes substantial estates, all with regrettably minimal judicial oversight. Dimond reports fairly, giving competing versions of events equal space. If you read one book this year, We’re Here to Help: When Guardianship Goes Wrong should be it.” 
— Jack Furlong, attorney at Furlong and Krasny, New Jersey

“Dimond’s explanation of what has gone wrong—and continues to go wrong—in our nation’s court system is timely and important information for all of us. To those who truly want to protect incapacitated adults, I urge you to please read this book.” 
— Lisa MacCarley, conservatorship attorney, California

Product Details
ISBN: 9781684581672
ISBN-10: 1684581672
Publisher: Brandeis University Press
Publication Date: September 19th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Brandeis Series in Law and Society