We often have retirees who are under the radar even though they might be famous for what they have achieved in life. One such person was an artist who had been commissioned to paint a portrait of a well-known religious leader and had international investors in his art. He had children and was married to his fourth wife who was much younger than him.
The artist was starting to have cognitive issues, A doctor, who was also a neighbor, advised the artist's son that the son could file for guardianship.
When the artist was served with the guardianship papers he called his attorney, who referred the case to me.
The artist did what all of us should do. He had planned ahead in case of incapacity, making sure his estate planning documents were in place. These advance directives included a power of attorney and a designation of healthcare agent, and provided instructions for his medical treatment. Normally that would indicate that a guardianship isn't necessary. However, the son pursued the guardianship anyway. I was court-appointed
to represent the artist and didn't feel that he needed a guardian.
The son had the doctor testify that the doctor was treating the artist for Alzheimer's. However the medical records made no mention of this. The son could not prove incapacity. Also, we pointed out to the court that the doctor was communicating with the son about the patient without the patient's knowledge and against the patient's directions, which was not permissible.
The son eventually realized he could not support his petition and voluntarily discontinued the case.
The family members who cared about the artist didn't stop there. They had seen what was happening and formally complained to regulators for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which resulted in the doctor being censured.
highlights the importance of valid estate planning, which creates a less restrictive means of dealing with mild cognitive impairment, even when there are people willing to pursue a guardianship. T
he professional guardians I work with strive to take the road of least resistance as well, to make sure that vulnerable elders are under the least restrictive form of guardianship when guardianship is necessary.