Physical and financial health protected through conservatorships

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Physical and Financial Health Protected Through Conservatorships

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor gained notoriety in the 1950s for her acting and beauty, but continued to remain in headlines decades later as she married and divorced multiple men. Presently, the former actress is 95 years old and married to her ninth husband. There is little trace left of the glamorous star that once was. Now she is in failing health, unaware of her surroundings and hospitalized in Los Angeles for an infection.

The former actress only recently realized that doctors amputated part of her right leg after a fall that lead to an antibiotic-resistant infection that necessitated the removal. The realization that part of her leg was gone did not come until 18 months after its removal. Clearly, when an individual is unable to realize that their body is failing, they are in no state to be handling their finances.

In these situations, families rightfully become concerned about the elderly individual's physical and financial health. Often, the elderly individual will be resistant to help when they really need it. In such situations, an estate planning lawyer can assist relatives with protecting their elderly loved one in a dignified and respectful manner.

This is called a conservatorship. A conservator is an individual that is appointed to assist in maintaining the wellbeing of an elderly individual or a disabled adult. Each situation is unique. In some situations, one person handles all of the duties surrounding this wellbeing, meaning both health and financial decisions. In other situations, the duties will be divided so that the conservator of a person makes health and care decisions, while the conservator of an estate oversees financial decisions.

Sometimes there can be a disagreement over who should be the conservator, particularly in cases like Gabor's where the woman has children from a previous marriage. Often times, adult children do not get along with a parent's spouse after remarriage. This appears to be the case as Gabor's ninth husband was recently appointed as the former star's temporary conservator in court after a discrepancy with the former star's daughter.

These types of situations can be difficult for everyone: the elderly individual, the family members and the conservator. An attorney can be of great assistance in navigating these often difficult transitions.

Source: Mail Online, "Zsa Zsa Gabor, 95, hospitalized after developing severe throat infection," Dec. 6, 2012

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