The New Custody Battle – Who Gets Mom & Dad?

Baby boomers beware...there’s a new custody battle on the rise and it has nothing to do with family court, divorce or minor children. In fact, the newest custody battle is over YOU and it’s occurring statewide in our Probate Courts.

As many of us age, we simply hope someone will be there to help care for us in our final years. Do you know who will manage your health and finances if you’re unable to do so?
  • Your spouse? A lot of us assume our spouse will take the reigns if we’re unable to make decisions for ourself but logically we know that for more than 50% of us our spouse will pre-decease us or may have their own incapacity issues when we need them the most. Naming your spouse as an agent is fine, but you always need a back-up plan.
  • Your children? If you only have one (1) child, this may be a safe assumption but for any of us with more than one child, you know that brings bickering and differing opinions. Your children may not agree (most don’t) on what’s in your best interest. Ideally, you would discuss the future with them and pick the child that’s most capable of handling the tasks due to similar beliefs, locations or skills. In reality, parents feel uncomfortable making these decisions and instead naively hope their kids will just figure it out.

These issues are compounded significantly when you’re currently married to someone who is not the parent of your children. Children and second spouses (or 3rd, 4th or 5th) are notorious for ugly court battles over who gets to make decisions regarding their loved one’s health and money! These issues need to be addressed before they get to court to protect yourself and your spouse!

So, how do we avoid anyone fighting over us in court? Less than one-third (1/3) of our population has executed a Health Care Power of Attorney or General Durable Power of Attorney to name an agent to act in our place. The reasons why vary from person to person but we’ve found for the most part it’s just wishful thinking that we will die peacefully in our sleep without facing the hurdles of aging including dementia and or Alzheimer’s Disease. Statistics; however, tell a different story. One in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. One in 8 people over age 65 in the United States has Alzheimer’s disease now, and nearly 50% over age 85 are suffering. In 2014, an estimated 5.2 million people in the United States were living with Alzheimer’s disease. Sobering, isn’t it?

What’s worse is that as a whole, we’re completely unprepared and by the time we realize it (or our family does), it’s often too late because we’ve lost the ability to legally execute these documents. For more information on obtaining these documents, please contact our office for a completely free (no obligation or sales pitch) consultation. And if you’re reading this because you already have a parent in this situation, please make sure to read our other posts on Guardians and Conservators to better understand the Court’s role. Still, have questions? Post them here or call/text our office at (800) 914-0620. We’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about Author Virginia Spencer, click here.