Woman loses petition to become husband’s legal guardian

As the number of people living in Lee County, Florida and the United States who are 65 and older grows, so too does the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These illnesses can have an effect on every aspect of a person’s life, including estate planning.

Many people may not realize that state laws that are meant to protect those with dementia who can’t make their own decisions, may also hurt those closest to the person. This is the case for an 80-year-old woman who has lost her case to become her husband’s legal guardian.

The couple have been married for over 30 years, but often lived in separate homes over the course of their marriage. When the 78-year-old man was tentatively diagnosed with dementia in 2006, the woman bought a home near his ranch where she could help him with his medications and cook for him.

She soon became concerned about the influence of the man’s ranch hand who was also her ex-son-in-law. The ranch hand also filed a petition to become the man’s legal guardian after the man had visited a lawyer and gave the ranch hand the right to handle his affairs.

Evidently, the judge in the case was not comfortable with either the man’s wife or ranch hand becoming his legal guardian, because a professional guardian was appointed. As a real-estate broker, the wife worries that her husband’s assets are not being properly cared for, but feels helpless to stop it.

This case highlights why it is so important for people to make their wishes known as soon as possible. An estate planning attorney can help to put your affairs in order and ensure that you are protected and cared for in the event that you can no longer do it for yourself.

Source: CTPost.com, “Wife not allowed to care for wealthy husband,” Barbara Peters Smith,” July 27, 2013

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