Tuesday, June 29, 2021
“I Care A Lot” – Could It Happen to Me?
"If you're a probate attorney (or someone with a Netflix account), you've seen or heard about the somewhat disturbing film 'I Care a Lot.'" The film was released on Netflix in early 2021.
The film illustrates "a legal guardian's ability to target and drain the assets of susceptible elderly individuals." The movie follows a "crooked guardian" named Maria, played by Rosamund Pike. In the movie, Maria obtains guardianship over Jennifer, played by Dianne Wiest.
What starts as a seemingly predictable plot turns into a thrilling piece of art with "twists of violence, crime, and laughable moments." Unfortunately, the legal procedures depicted in the film are inaccurate at best.
It is important to discuss these inaccuracies. First, when Maria meets with Dr. Amos to discuss Jennifer's "need" for a guardian. The encounter is filled with HIPAA violations, ethical concerns, and Dr. Amos fails to provide a medical certificate to the court, which is required with a petition for guardianship.
In a startling scene, Maria shows up to Jennifer's front door and takes her to an assisted living home, while Jennifer has no idea what is going on and is completely unaware that there was a hearing to begin with.
Also, Maria seemingly has a lot of powers that guardians in most states would not have. For instance, Maria began painting the walls in Jennifer's home and attempted to sale the home. In the real world, these powers must be provided by the court and are not automatic when someone becomes a guardian.
If you watched or plan on watching "I Care A Lot" keep in mind that the movie is not completely accurate and portrays an exaggerated picture of the potential abuse of a guardianship and the authority that comes with it.
See Noelle Lussier, “I Care A Lot” – Could It Happen to Me?, Burns & Levinson, June 24, 2021.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.