Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has been in the news a lot recently. Aldrin, his children, and even his business manager, are embroiled in a lawsuit over whether Aldrin is competent to continue managing his finances and his life. Sadly, this guardianship feud between Aldrin and his adult children has caused a lot of people to wonder, “How on earth does this sort of thing happen to someone like Buzz Aldrin? How can I avoid being in a similar situation someday?”
What Everybody Ought to Know About Guardianship
Attorney Amanda Lundeen doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about guardianship for seniors. She is the primary attorney who handles these cases at Edwards Group. “Sometimes guardianship is necessary for a variety of reasons, but it’s never the ideal option. It is a stressful process for any family.”
As you consider what tools you need to have in place as you age, there are four things you should know about guardianship for seniors:
1. Guardianship is expensive.
It takes two attorneys — one to represent the senior and one to represent the party trying to gain guardianship — along with court fees and fees to serve the summons. It’s an official legal process without any shortcuts, and that means red tape and expense.
2. Other family members are involved in the process.
(And that may not be a good thing.) Much like when a Will goes through probate, all family members must be made aware when a guardianship is being filed. Children, siblings, parents, etc. all have to be officially notified. This is not only difficult for the privacy of the person who may need the guardianship, but it can also invite interference and disagreement amongst family members, complicating an already stressful process.
3. Guardianship doesn’t solve all the problems.
Many people approach guardianship with the unrealistic expectation that it will suddenly resolve the difficult situation they find their family in. The guardian has authority (and responsibility) for representing the disabled person in dealing with others (medical providers, financial institutions, etc.), but there is one person who may not honor the guardianship — the disabled person. If a family is dealing with an uncooperative individual, guardianship isn’t going to suddenly make that person compliant.
4. Guardianship is an EXTREME option.
It’s really a last resort for families, and like we’ve said, this means there is a complicated and difficult situation going on that demands an extreme solution. Guardianships can often be contested, and when they are they get UGLY. (As you can see in the Buzz Aldrin case.)
If guardianship is so terrible, what can you do to avoid it? Attorney Amanda Lundeen gives four tips to avoid this mess yourself. Check it out in this blog post.
Most people don’t know how to effectively manage the issues that come about with aging. They only handle it once or twice in their lifetime. Edwards Group sees it all the time, and that’s why we developed a holistic way to help families think through the legal, financial, and care issues that unfold as someone ages. Our team is uniquely qualified to provide services and support to families who have questions and concerns about aging, illness, and long-term care needs. Give us a call at 217-726-9200 and ask to speak with an Elder Care Advisor today.