The Increasing Amount of Guardianship Litigation

While not directly on point, the above from Legal Antics nonetheless got me thinking more about this post by Philip Bernstein at The New Your Probate Litigation Blog about the increase that he is seeing in family fights over whom should/will care for mom and dad’s last illness.

Don’t think for a second that these fights are truly over who wants to help mom from her bed to the bathroom, no, its all about money… Reasoning that those children who assist mom or dad in the last illness will get more from their parent’s estate, some kids seem willing to throw their relationships with their siblings out the window. Its something we worry about constantly here when doing guardianships… By statute the court has to ask whether the guardianship applicant seeking to be appointed for mom or dad is the best person to be in that position but Phil is right to counsel greater caution. So we regularly ask the client – is anyone going to object to your appointment? Its not like any of this can kept secret. The other siblings are going to get notices from the court. If there is a way to preemptively mediate any potential disputes over the client’s appointment (to the extent that our duty of loyalty to our clients let us), such efforts are well spent if the goal is avoiding litigation. That saves everyone a great deal of time and money.

I do wonder whether the increasing amount of guardianship litigation really is the result of a change in the landscape itself, or if there are just more guardianships in the aggregate now that the boomers are “at that age.”

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