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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2006 / 29 Shevat, 5766

Mental incapacity may negate legal proceedings

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: After the last of my siblings left home in the 1970s, our parents seemed to be getting along nicely. When Dad retired in the mid-'90s, they took some trips, learned how to golf and traveled around visiting my two brothers and me. Then, about five years ago, Mom began to change. She became very erratic, didn't sleep well (and therefore kept Dad up all night), stopped cooking and cleaning, and would sometimes disappear for a day at a time. Because we have been concerned about her health and that of our father, we tried to intervene, but she won't go to a doctor and is impossible to talk to. The police have been called to their house by neighbors several times when she went out in the yard screaming at 1 a.m.


Most recently, without warning to Dad and apparently on the advice of her younger sister (age 68), Mom cleaned out several bank accounts, hired a lawyer, and says that she wants a divorce. Her sister has been married four times, has no money and has now leeched onto our mother. My brothers and I called her lawyer in an effort to tell him our concerns about her mental health and what was really going on, but he refused to talk to us.


Now Dad has hired a lawyer, and all of us children are in the middle because we signed affidavits stating we didn't think our mother was in good mental condition. The last time we saw her, it was obvious that she had not bathed, and she was very disheveled. She and her sister are inseparable. We think that her lawyer knows there are problems and is either not dealing with them or ignoring the obvious. Our mother needs help — and not from her money-grubbing sister, but we can't seem to get through to anyone. What can we do to help our mother get the treatment she needs and make sure our father does not get crucified by a legal system that has neither the time nor inclination to care?


A: Dealing with clients who may be impaired because of mental or other disabilities is a fast-growing problem area for lawyers in all areas of the law, and the matrimonial segment is no exception. On one hand, the lawyer must protect the secrets provided by the client and, as much as possible, maintain a normal attorney-client relationship; on the other hand, upon determining that a client does not have the ability to make good decisions and act in his or her own interests, the lawyer has an obligation to take steps that may include such protective action as the appointment of a guardian.


The normal attorney-client relationship is based on the assumption that when advised properly, your mother is able to make decisions about important matters; however, if she suffers from a mental disability, a normal attorney-client relationship is not possible. If your mother doesn't have the mental capacity to understand the proceedings and a guardian or guardian ad litem is not appointed to represent her, then the proceedings before the court could well be nullified because an incapacitated person may not be able to make legally binding decisions.


If the facts are as obvious as you state, we think her lawyer should have had your mother evaluated by competent and independent medical experts to determine her mental capacity. In our view, this means that a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a geriatrician, or a combination of these medical professionals should have been consulted early on because there were certainly enough "red flags" to put her lawyer on notice.


Assuming your mother's lawyer is not going to act, your father's lawyer can approach the court and seek orders (1) requiring your mother to undergo such evaluations, and (2) appointing an independent guardian ad litem to represent your mother's interests. And if it appears that your aunt is exerting undue influence over your mother, as you believe, a complaint to adult protective services may be necessary. A more drastic avenue may be for one of you children to seek guardianship or involuntary commitment in the probate court. These are drastic remedies, but under the circumstances you state, one or more of them may well be warranted.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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