To most parents, the question of whether the government should intervene to dictate how a child should be raised is an easy one. Parents, not the court system, should decide what is best for their children — in the absence, of course, of abuse or neglect. But does that change when a child’s life is on the line?
That is the difficult question facing a court of appeals in Ohio regarding Sarah Hershberger. What are the constitutional rights of parents to make life-or-death medical decisions for their child? What if the decision the parents make flies in the face of conventional medicine and, according to traditional doctors, means the child will die in less than a year?
Sarah Hershberger Guardianship Case
Sarah Hershberger is the eleven-year-old daughter of Andy and Anna Hershberger, who are Amish. The family lives in an Amish community near a small town outside of Cleveland. At least, they did until recently. Because the Ohio court system appointed a guardian over Sarah — for the sole purpose Read more…
For many years, kids across America listened to Casey Kasem, both as the legendary host of American Top 40 and as the voice to many cartoon characters including Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame and Batman-sidekick Robin from Super Friends. But now, his own kids say they don’t even get to listen to him — or even see him for that matter. And it’s led to an ugly family feud in court.
The 81-year old Casey Kasem suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease and is essentially bedridden. He cannot walk without assistance and may have diminished mental capacity. His wife of more than 30 years, Jean, has barred Kasem’s children from his first marriage, and other friends and family members (such as his younger brother) from visiting or speaking with Kasem.
In order to pressure Jean to allow them to see Kasem, daughters Kerri Kasem and Julie Kasem, with more than a dozen friends and family members, held a protest in front of the Kasem home. When that failed to convince Jean to Read more…
For months, Amanda Bynes has been like a runaway train charging out-of-control down the tracks. Multiple arrests … bizarre behavior … friends begging for someone to help her. Many people feared a dramatic crash and fiery explosion.
A much smaller fire may have paved the way for her to get the help she obviously needs. This week it was reported by multiple outlets, such as the New York Daily News, that Amanda Bynes set her pants on fire and accidentally doused her pet Pomeranian with gasoline in the driveway of an unsuspecting elderly woman. She reportedly fled the scene, tried to wash the dog off at a convenience store, and fled again. Bynes was picked up by authorities, who had her committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization.
This latest incident has given her parents the impetus to file for conservatorship over her. They filed earlier this week, and had their first court hearing Friday morning.
Many people think it’s about time. But filing for guardianship or conservatorship over a Read more…
Amanda Bynes came into the public eye as one of Nickelodeon’s sweethearts. Now friends and colleagues are so worried about her recent erratic behavior that they have been begging for police intervention. Her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, tweeted: “I just spoke to @AmandaBynes and she is soooo messed up on drugs and please @NY POLICE find her and help her! I don’t know her address!”
Jenny McCarthy then tweeted, “Police are at @AmandaBynes house. I hope they get her help. Enough of this circus. She needs help.”
Just over a year ago, Amanda Bynes started down a path that many probably could not foresee. It started with being charged with driving under the influence last year after she hit a police car when she was talking on her cell phone. After that, she was charged with two more hit and run accidents, which were later dismissed. Since then, her behavior has seemed to get more bizarre and erratic by the month.
More recently, she tweeted to R&B/hip-hop artist Drake Read more…
The Britney Spears conservatorship saga has nearly reached its fifth year anniversary. We all remember her shaved head, public meltdowns, and wild paparazzi photographs. Her career, her relationship with her children, and even her life were all spinning dangerously out of control.
Compare that to her life now, five years later. Thirty-one-year-old Britney looks a great deal different from twenty-six-year-old Britney. She was just paid $15 million for one season’s work as a judge on the X Factor. Was she the best judge around? That’s debatable. There were reports that Simon Cowell wouldn’t have her back for another season, but it was Britney’s decision to leave X-Factor.
Britney Spears conservatorship video
Either way, there’s no debate that Britney seemed … well, very normal. She was mature, composed, even graceful at times. She mentored teenage singers. She held herself together and gave constructive feedback. Britney was reportedly re-energized by the experience and is ready to start releasing new music and touring again.
What thirty-one-year-old Britney doesn’t look like is someone who Read more…
One of Reese Witherspoon’s more famous roles was as the perky young attorney in Legally Blonde. Late last week, she accompanied her parents to court in a much more somber setting.
Reese Witherspoon’s father, Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, was recently married. At least, that’s what a newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee announced. You can read the big announcement and see the happy couple’s wedding photo here.
While John doesn’t exactly look happy in the picture, the announcement reveals that they will reside together in Nashville, following the intimate ceremony that featured cowboy boots and yellow roses, based on their Texas heritage. The festivities took place on January 14th, and the couple plans a celebration with friends and family for the summer.
Reese Witherspoon’s Father Sued For Bigamy
There’s just one problem. Reese’s 70-year old father, John, was never divorced from Reese’s mother, Mary. While they’ve been living apart for the last 16 years, they still are married. Mary says she still loves her husband of 42 years, Read more…
A few weeks into the new year, how many of your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside? Exercise more. Eat less. Spend more quality time with family.
Well it’s not too late to tackle a very important resolution that up to two-thirds of adults in our country ignore — estate planning. That’s right, it’s the topic no one likes to think about, but everyone knows they should take care of … wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and more.
It doesn’t have to be intimidating! In fact, celebrity stories are a great way to break the ice to remind everyone of what they need to do.
So, with the help of some recent stories in the news, here are Trial & Heirs: New Years Estate Planning Resolutions for 2012. (We just gave an interview discussing some of these stories, which you can watch here).
The Estate Of Etta James
1. Plan Now and Don’t Procrastinate.
R&B legend Etta James was 72 when she passed away last week, Read more…
The second richest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, has been declared mentally unfit to manage her affairs by a Judge in France yesterday. The decision grants control of her financial affairs to her only child, daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and grandsons Jean-Victor and Nicolas. Bettencourt-Meyers has been fighting for years to protect her 88-year old mother, who has been victim to financial exploitation to the tune of more than one billion dollars, according to an earlier lawsuit.
Bettencourt suffers from “mixed dementia” and “moderately severe” Alzheimer’s disease, according to a medical report relied on by the Judge in making her decision. Her mental decline sparked a family court fight. It began three years ago when Bettencourt-Meyers started a lawsuit to protect her mother from photographer Francois-Marie Banier, who she claimed had charmed the elder Bettencourt out of assets worth almost one billion euros (about 1.4 billion dollars). She also named Banier as sole heir in a new will and as beneficiary to vast life insurance policies.
Bettencourt was so furious Read more…
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines Financial or Material Exploitation as:
The illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Examples includes, but are not limited to, cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging an older person’s signature; misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing a document (e.g., contracts or will); and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney.
The Center lists the following warning signs and symptoms of exploitation and other forms of financial abuse:
- Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder;
- The inclusion of additional names on an elder’s bank signature card;
- Unauthorized withdrawal of the elder’s funds using the elder’s ATM card;
- Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents;
- Unexplained disappearance of fund or valuable possessions;
- Substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial
As Britney Spears nears her 30th birthday in a few months, she is in the midst of a world tour, has a successful new album, and tells Glamour Magazine that she is happy and “in a really good place right now.” There’s even talk of her regaining at least partial custody of her children. Quite a turnaround from the public lows she hit just three years ago! And who does she thank for it? Her father, James Spears.
In fact, according to a friend of hers, Britney Spears credits her father for saving her life. How did he do it when she was so close to the edge — bald head and all — just a few short years ago?
James Spears has been Britney’s conservator since 2008. This means he was appointed by a judge to make all of Britney’s legal decisions, financial and otherwise, since that time.
Most people who are familiar with conservators (or guardians, as they are called in many states) think of them as being Read more…