Adult Children Seek Guardianship of Their Astronaut Dad, Buzz Aldrin

In July 1969, the first person to set foot on the moon’s surface was Neil Armstrong. Nine minutes later, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. touched down. History was made!

On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 next year, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 88, seeks to remain an influential voice on our country’s space exploration policy. Just last week he enjoyed a front-row seat at the White House during a meeting of the National Space Council. However, at the same time that Buzz is prepping for the big anniversary of his historical moment, he is involved in a legal battle with two of his children, Andrew Aldrin, 60, and Janice Aldrin, 51.

The Aldrin children claim that their 88-year-old father has dementia and is being manipulated by others and spending money at an alarming rate. They have indicated they are worried about the “alarming growth of Buzz’s increasingly lavish personal expenses — to more than $70,000 per month, on average.” They asked a Florida court to grant them guardianship over their father so they can manage his financial affairs and make other decisions for him, expressing concern about his mental decline.

Aldrin wholeheartedly disagrees and is disheartened by his children’s actions. He filed a lawsuit of his own against his children, his long-time business manager, Christina Korp, and his family foundation alleging that they are improperly spending his money, mismanaging his affairs, and slandering him with assertions that he is suffering from dementia. He says that his children have taken his passport away from him and have undermined his romantic relationships by forbidding him to remarry for the fourth time. Aldrin has also expressed that he wants his son removed as his trustee, so that he will never be in charge of his finances.

“Nobody is going to come close to thinking I should be under a guardianship,” he told The Wall Street Journal. Aldrin requested an evaluation from James Spar, a geriatric psychiatrist at UCLA. According to Spar, Aldrin scored normal to superior on tests of cognitive ability. Spar concluded that Aldrin is “…substantially able to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence.”

Appearing last Tuesday on ABC News, Aldrin called the dispute “the saddest thing that’s ever happened in my family.” He also said, “But as I’ve seen, family is forever and I will forever be trying to patch it up.”
Aldrin’s children continue to maintain that they are doing what is best for him in seeking guardianship because of the increased confusion and memory loss that Aldrin has demonstrated in recent years. “We love and respect our father very much and remain hopeful that we can rise above this situation and recover the strong relationship that built this foundation in the first place,” Janice and Andrew Aldrin said in their statement.

Buzz Aldrin is set to undergo a competency exam this week, administered by court-appointed mental-health experts in Florida. We’ll keep you up to date on social media as we find out more.

Other Instances of Guardianship

In the past, we looked at Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, and Britney Spears, troubled celebrities whose erratic behavior and apparent mental illness has caused their parents to seek conservatorship. We also looked at Rudy and Rennie North, who were kidnapped by a professional guardian, and Guardianship Revisited: a Serial 911-Caller and a Bigamist. As you can see from all of these examples, guardianship is an extreme form of intervention in another person’s life and in most cases there are better options!

Guardianship and the Alternatives

With Guardianship, control over personal and/or financial decisions is transferred to someone else for an indefinite, often permanent period of time. Once established, it can be difficult to revoke. Therefore, guardianship should generally only be used as a last resort.

Similar to Aldrin, very few people want to have court oversight and be unable to make decisions without getting someone else’s permission. That’s a big reason why proper legal planning is so important. The very same protections can usually be achieved without any court proceeding, through the use of good power of attorney documents for medical and financial decisions. However, even a good power of attorney in a case such as Buzz Aldrin‘s would not have eliminated the friction between Buzz and his children, because a power of attorney can be improperly used or abused by unscrupulous or greedy children. This is why it is very important to name someone you have complete and absolute trust in when signing your power of attorney. If you don’t already have an up-to-date power of attorney in place, then it’s critical to do so right away provided you have someone you can name that you have complete trust in.

Certainly, there are instances where Powers of Attorney aren’t enough to help. But those instances are the exceptions, not the rule. Every adult 18 years and older should consider having proper power of attorney documents, just in case.

If you have an incapacitated family member and you would like to talk about your options, call us to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation:

Fairfax Guardianship Attorney: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Guardianship Attorney: 540-479-1435
Rockville Guardianship Attorney: 301-519-8041
DC Guardianship Attorney: 202-587-2797

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