Tim Conway's career included notoriety on the Carol Burnett Show and McHale's Navy. Now, the 84-year-old is reportedly suffering from dementia, and his family is involved in a legal battle over conservatorship. This battle follows legal disputes over guardianships and conservatorships for other celebrities and Arizona non-celebrities.
Elder law in Arizona and other states, through guardianships and conservatorships, protects older or incapacitated individuals who may be susceptible to undue influence. Stan Lee, the legendary creator of Ant Man, Black Panther and other iconic Marvel heroes is the subject of three lawsuits that may have been prevented through a conservatorship.
Arizona protects incapacitated adults through guardianships that allow a trusted person, often a family member, to take over their business and financial decisions. Guardians and others, however, can violate their important legal responsibilities.
Elderly Americans lose up to $30 billion each year because of financial abuse, according to an estimate. Some of this misappropriation includes presumably trusted family members and others who misused their legal authority. Properly-drafted guardianships should prevent this misconduct, but these relationships may be exploited.
It is inevitable that we will get old. And as we age, we may develop conditions and ailments that make it difficult to care for ourselves. When incapacity and disabilities plague one's life, loved ones often step in to make decisions for him or her. But what mechanism ensures that this is done properly and to one's wishes? This is where guardianship comes into play.
The law requires financial conservators to spend the money under their control to pay for the children's special needs, with a judge's approval. There can be horrible consequences when they fail this fiduciary duty. A case from Michigan involving a 9-year-old with a disability who apparently purchased a $240,000 home is instructive. It also reveals the dangers of inadequate conservatorships and guardianships in Arizona.
Arizona law provides for guardianships for those who cannot care for themselves or handle their day-to-day needs because of advanced age, illness or other incapacities. However, a recent case involving four people were charged with seven different felonies concerning guardianship vividly illustrates the need for proper planning and precautions for appointing a legal guardian and estate planning.
Estate planning is important for an individual at any stage of his or her life. As you get older, this need becomes even more pressing. A pivotal and practical moment to begin planning for the future comes when you have children. You want to make sure your children are taken care should something happen to you and your spouse. In this stage of your life, an essential element of an estate plan is establishing a legal guardian for your children.
Previous posts on this blog have discussed how a court in Arizona goes about choosing a guardian or conservator when a child or an adult suffering an incapacity has a need for such a person in their lives. This choice is an important one, especially since guardianships and conservatorships give a lot of power to one person, including power to oversee a great deal of property and even to make basic life decisions for the person being protected.