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Durable power of attorney can prevent guardianships, conservatorships, P.1

In early May, attorneys for the aging actress Zsa Zsa Gabor were set to appear in court for a hearing as to whether the aging celebrity should have independent management of her finances and health care. The hearing was requested by Gabor's daughter Constance Francesca Hilton, who feels it is necessary for her to have a conservatorship, though her husband Frederic von Anhalt apparently opposes the request.

At present, Gabor is confined to her bed and has been struggling with ill health for some months. The doctor who regularly cares for Gabor says she is aware of her own bedroom and that she is being well care for by her husband and two aides.

According to Gabor's daughter, von Anhalt is keeping her mother sedated so as to have greater control of her money, which Hilton believes he may be mismanaging. He, in turn, denies the allegations and claims she has caused financial problems for Gabor in the past. He has also requested that he act as conservator if it is deemed that one is necessary. Hilton's attorney has said she is willing to have a third party act as conservator.

In some states, a conservatorship refers to a court-arranged process in which a court decides that an individual doesn't have the mental capability to handle his or her own personal and/or financial affairs. In New Jersey, such individuals are called guardians. Guardians are of two types: of the person and of the property.

Because guardianships can be a time-consuming and expensive process, it is often better to plan in advance by appointing a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows an individual to act on behalf of an individual who is disabled or somehow incapacitated. In our next post, we'll continue looking at durable powers of attorney and how they relate to guardianships.

Source: northjersey.com, "Judge to consider oversight of Zsa Zsa Gabor," May 2, 2012

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