Mar 12, 2012

Don't be like Leo

Last night I saw the poignant film "Win Win." The film stars Paul Giamatti as Mike, a small town lawyer.

The film has several subplots, but the story is kick-started when the state (in this case New Jersey) steps in to establish a guardianship for the aging Leo Poplar, played by Burt Young. Leo is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. It's clear Leo has never established the legal documents expressing his wishes for who should be in charge should be become incapacitated. His only relative is a daughter who cannot be located and from whom he has been estranged for years. Leo is still sharp enough to know he wants to stay at home, and he has assets enough that he has an in-home aide.

Nonetheless, Leo ends up hauled into court, where the state seeks to prove his incapacity and establish guardianship over Leo. The state's plan: put Leo in a group home. Through several twists and turns, Mike is ultimately appointed Leo's guardian. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't give away any more. 

As they say, hilarity and hijinks ensue. But be assured that in real life, a guardianship procedure has none of those cinematic niceties. A serious step of last resort, and traumatic for everyone involved, it can tear families apart, which is also demonstrated in the film.

Fortunately, with the proper planning, you can keep your destiny in your own hands. Don't be like Leo!
Read more about planning with a Durable Power of Attorney for your financial affairs.
Read more about designating someone to handle your health care decisions, including designating a pre-need guardian.

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