Author of New Book Fights for First Amendment Rights of Families Caught in the ‘Legal Guardianship Swamp’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Dec. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Thanks to the widely publicized Free Britney movement, legally binding adult conservatorships (guardianships/conservatorships in New Mexico), have begun to emerge from the shadows. It’s about time, says Léonie Rosenstiel, the author of Protecting Mama: Surviving the Legal Guardianship Swamp, a new eBook and paperback.

Court-appointed legal guardianships are often put in place to protect the frail elderly who cannot make their own decisions. As of 2018, the AARP estimated that 85% of an estimated 1.8 million individuals under guardianship in the United States were over 65.

But these guardianships do not always go well, sometimes imposing hardships on families that may include prohibitions against speaking publicly about the individual and facing large fines if they do so.

Rosenstiel’s elderly mother, a retired professor with dementia, was placed under such an arrangement, with dire results. As Rosenstiel notes in the book, the conservator prevented her from seeing her mother for nearly three years, against her mother’s wishes and her own, and forced her mother to remain in her bed for the rest of her life after suffering a broken hip.

Her mother made Rosenstiel promise to write a book exposing the flaws in the guardianship system to empower other families caught in its web. Rosenstiel went back to school to earn a master’s degree in public health and undertook a vigorous research process to honor her mother’s request. To be able to speak out without legal reprisals, she hired a lawyer who succeeded in lifting the gag order she was under; such gag orders continue even after the death of the protected individual. Rosenstiel says, "To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only person ever to succeed in getting a court-imposed secrecy order covering guardianship material lifted." She spent more than $1 million learning the tips she passes on in her book. She says, "Even more revolutionary is my conviction, based on my own experience, that a group of relatives of wards, working together in the right way, have the power to change the current undesirable situation."

She writes, "My own trip through the Salvador Dali world of guardianship has led me to question the legal process and the assumptions of individuals within the legislative, legal, medical, and guardianship systems. Most of these folks seem to believe that, at best, all families consist of bumbling, meddling fools who present inconveniences to beneficent, efficient bureaucrats and, at worst, consist only of sadists, murderers and thieves from whom elders need protection."

About Léonie Rosenstiel

Léonie Rosenstiel and her work have been featured in The New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, Albuquerque Journal, Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and more. Originally a classical violinist performing in the U.S., France and Colombia, she earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in musicology and started a small publishing company with her literary agent husband. She earned degrees in counseling ministry from The New Seminary in New York City, then a master’s degree in East Asian medicine, and finally another in public health. In addition to her book, she offers an online course (through Dayspring Resources) for adult children called "A Roadmap for Baby Boomers and Those Who Love Them."

Contact: Léonie Rosenstiel, (505) 317-2405; 

SOURCE Leonie Rosenstiel