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Florida woman denied the right to take care of elderly husband

It can be a heart-wrenching decision to declare a loved one incapable of making financial and personal choices on his or her behalf. However, sometimes it’s necessary to appoint a guardian due to a family member’s incapacity. When parents or spouses age, they often are unable to take care of their estate on their own, and can be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, even attempts to take care of family members can be derailed by others who would like to handle the estate – or even by the estate owners themselves.

The wife of an elderly Manatee County judge is facing this problem, after a disagreement they had over real estate that resulted in his never wanting to speak to her again. The husband had been diagnosed with progressive dementia in 2010, and his 80-year-old wife of 30 years had sworn to take care of him. The man attempted to file for divorce, which was overturned by a judge who had ruled him mentally unfit to decide on the matter. However, he had been able to appoint a lawyer and a guardian, and shut her out of helping to control his estate or even take care of him as she’d hoped.

The wife tried to block the liquidation of his remaining real estate investments, and doesn’t know what’s left of his assets and life savings. She is no longer allowed to visit her husband without permission, and expresses sadness at not being able to be there for him in his final years.

For this reason, estate planning experts advise that families have discussions and finalize legal documents as soon as an incapacitating illness is diagnosed, or even before. Taking care of estate issues while still in the right mental state can prevent the type of painful experience that this woman is experiencing.

Source:, “Wife not allowed to care for wealthy husband,” Barbara Peters Smith, July 27, 2013

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