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Monday, September 10, 2018

Is Buzz Aldrin In Trouble?

In October, Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, will be appearing in court. The whole world will once again be watching him, but this time it is not a happy occasion. Earlier this year, Buzz’s children, filed a legal petition seeking guardianship over him, and he filed a lawsuit in response. At an October hearing, the court will decide whether the former astronaut’s lawsuit should be put on hold while his mental acuity is evaluated.

This whole mess started when Andy and Jan Aldrin filed a petition with the courts claiming their 88-year-old father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia, and confusion. They asked the court to appoint them co-guardians over him so they could properly manage his financial affairs and healthcare.

Buzz responded by filing a lawsuit alleging that Andy, Jan, and his longtime manager, Christina Korp have taken control of his “personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social-media accounts, and all elements of the Buzz Aldrin brand.” And that Andy, Janice, and Korp have “forbidden” him from marrying and “specifically and deliberately have undermined, bullied, and defamed all of [his] personal romantic relationships.” He also alleges that Andy and Korp have slandered him by telling others that he has dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

This is a sad situation, but the only reason it is making headlines is because Buzz is a national hero. It is not an unusual case. Far too many families have very nasty and very public fights over guardianship as loved ones grow older.

Guardianships are a legal arrangement that place an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian, or custodian. The protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property. A person who is likely to be taken in by frauders or susceptible to undue external influence may also be placed under guardianship for their own protection.

The guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A guardian can be appointed as either a guardian of the person or a guardian of an estate or property or both. Guardianship of the person gives the guardian the authority to make non-financial decisions on behalf of the ward, including all healthcare and end-of-life decisions. Guardianship of the estate or property empowers the guardian to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person.

The best way to avoid being put under a guardianship that is not of your choosing is to execute power of attorney documents that specify who you would like to serve as your guardian and under what circumstances. You can also provide guidance to your selected guardian on how you would like them to act should a certain circumstance arise. By planning ahead you have much more control over the direction of your life even if you are no longer capable of making your own decisions.


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