When many Loudoun County residents think of a guardianship or conservatorship, they may think of it in the context of an elderly person or someone who is mentally incapacitated. But more and more, this legal process - which is an important part of estate planning - is also being used for young celebrities who have spiraled out of control and need help with day-to-day functioning.
Many Loudoun County residents may be familiar with actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. The actress, who just turned 96, has been suffering from health problems for a while, and her husband, Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, has been acting as conservator of her affairs. While it is normal for most spouses to take over the affairs of an incapacitated spouse, Gabor's daughter is trying to fight it. Proper estate planning can avoid such feuds.
When many Loudoun County residents think of a conservatorship or guardianship, they may think of a person handling the finances of someone who is incapacitated or mentally ill. However, in some cases, a conservatorship is not only used for estate planning purposes. Take, for example, pop superstar Britney Spears. As many fans know, Spears has been under a conservatorship for nearly five years. Her conservator was her father. Until recently, her fiancé also served as co-conservator, until their engagement ended. As her conservators, they made all the decisions for her -- how to spend money, where to live and even whether or not to get married.
Many Loudoun County residents may have wills or estate plans in place in the event that they can no longer care for their children. But what about their dogs, cats and other pets? Hurricane Sandy is proof that disasters and other emergencies can happen at any time. In the case of the superstorm, thousands of people along the East Coast had to find shelter quickly, which leads to this question: What happens to a person's pet when he or she can no longer care for it? Proper estate planning often can solve this dilemma.
Loudoun County residents may know how difficult it is to create a trust when one of their children is disabled or unable to care for himself. What happens to that child when both parents die? A family in Ohio was concerned about that since their eldest daughter, age 15, has a disability. The family met with a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning for families that have children with special needs.
Readers in Loudoun County are no doubt familiar with pop legend Michael Jackson, who passed away in June 2009. He left behind three children, who were being cared for by his mother, Katherine Jackson. A recent courtroom scuffle over guardianship of the children illustrates why estate planning is important after a major life change, such as having children.
With this year's high school graduations fast becoming a distant memory, many young Virginia graduates are embarking on their first summer of legal adulthood. Whether they plan on going to college, working or otherwise, young adults surely are aware of their newfound freedom and responsibilities. Yet many may not be aware of the consequences of their adulthood status itself and the legal responsibility involved once a child turns 18.
According to the attorney general of the state of Virginia, elder fraud in the state is a big problem. The AG noted that resources dedicated to the fight against elder fraud have increased by 50% over the last two years, even when every other unit in his office has decreased in size as a result of budget cuts. And they're certainly staying busy. In just the last year, the office has investigated 17,000 complaints related to elder fraud or abuse.
In previous posts this blog has discussed the increasing occurrence of financial scams targeted against the elderly in Virginia. Most of those scams, previous blogs have explained, are perpetrated by shady businesses and common criminals.However, there is an even more disturbing source of financial scams against the elderly that has recently gained attention in the media. That source is people entrusted to carry out a person's estate planning decisions. Court-appointed guardians and conservators have recently been caught preying on senior citizens for financial gain.
The daughter of 95-year-old actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has asked a judge to appoint her as a conservator to oversee her mother's medical care and assets.