A Trust Can Save Your Client from a Court-Appointed Guardianship
It happens in even the most privileged of families. An
aging parent is suffering from failing health.
Unfortunately, no planning for incapacitation was
ever put in place by the parent to name someone to
look after his or her best interests.
A French judge recently ruled that L’Oreal heiress
Liliane Bettencourt, 88, be placed under the
guardianship of her daughter and two grandsons
(tinyurl.com/6cr3f3d). A medical report declared that
Bettencourt suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
The court-appointed guardians are relatives, so this
should be a peaceful transition of power, right? Not
in this family — and maybe not in your client’s
family. The reality is that Bettencourt and her
daughter are estranged. They’ve had a series of
lawsuits over the matriarch’s spending.
Their fight for control over the family fortune has the
daughter claiming that Mrs. Bettencourt is mentally
unfit to manage her money. The aging matriarch is
thought to have given a celebrity photographer about
1 billion Euros worth of gifts over two decades.
There are also claims of illegal donations to President
Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
This Could Have Been Avoided
Whether Bettencourt is fit to manage her spending
isn’t really the key talking point here for advisors
with clients who need a planning strategy.
A Living Trust would have allowed Bettencourt to
name a Trustee — or at the very least, tell a court her
first choice for a Guardian or Trustee in the event of
Instead, the judge named her daughter — probably
the last person Bettencourt wanted to manage her life
and finances — and her grandsons.
Keep the Private from Going Public
If Bettencourt had simply created a Living Trust, then
this sensitive battle within her family over her
spending would likely have never been heard in a
In the absence of proper estate planning, which
includes provisions for incapacitation, a court will
name someone as a Guardian or Trustee. You can
help clients avoid this by asking a few questions and
referring them to an estate planning attorney.
Have your clients decided who they want to manage
their affairs in the event they become incapacitated?
Do they have any relatives who might accuse them of
being unfit? Who do they really trust?
To get more information regarding this or any related topic, please visit our website www.TEPLG.com or call us at 630-871-8778.