Adult Guardianship and the Pandemic

I’m proud to share an investigation I published this week in The Intercept, on a little-known but widespread practice that involves stripping seniors of their rights to make personal and financial decisions. It’s called “adult legal guardianship” — and it’s a highly unregulated legal arrangement that varies state by state, and is disturbingly easy to exploit.

I want to thank a subscriber of this newsletter — Marian Kornicki — for reaching out and putting this topic on my radar back in May. Marian, who has been dealing with a long-running guardian battle herself, helped connect me with some national advocates who have been sounding the alarm about guardianship, and through them I met families I reported on in my story.

The piece looks at how the issue of adult legal guardianship is playing out during the pandemic, why improving practices around legal guardianship has been so hard and unsuccessful, and what it might take to fix it. I’d say many people know by now that nursing homes and assisted living facilities have seen staggering rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths. What’s less known are the elderly people who have been put in those institutions against their will, taken from their homes, and/or barred from family members ready and willing to care for them.

Big thanks to my editor Maryam Saleh, who lived a former life as an attorney, and to JuliAnna Patino who commissioned original photography to accompany the piece. (Taken by photojournalist Tailyr Irvine, based in Florida.)

You can read the story here.

And if you want to learn more about this topic:
On Netflix: Season 2, episode 5 of “Dirty Money” does a really good job of looking at issues around guardianship.

Thanks for reading,