This past summer Buzz Aldrin’s children sued him in order to gain guardianship and decision -making authority over their father’s health, safety and welfare. The children acted and moved for guardianship because of their father’s increased memory loss and confusion. Mr. Aldrin counter-sued his children seeking to keep his independence. Litigation had a devastating impact on the family. The court ordered medical testing, and in the end declared that Mr. Aldrin had all his faculties and powers in place and can act on his behalf.
Do you have to have walked on the moon to have a court declare your independence? Do you need a court involved at all in making decisions that are at the core of a family’s well-being? If a family is in dispute what can they do as an alternative to a litigated solution. Elder mediators provide families an option.
An elder mediator develops a collaborative approach to resolving the dispute. The mediator following the interests of each family member defines the key concerns and interests expressed by all parties. If the Aldrin family had requested services of an elder mediator, could an independent medical evaluation still have been conducted.
The difficult conversation in this hypothetical is what if the medical evaluation determined that Mr. Aldrin was not fit to manage his estate, business and key decision making? What if Mr. Aldrin refused to adhere to the recommendations from the evaluation?
In establishing the process, the mediator will develop an agreement outlining the process. Presuming Mr. Aldrin signed the agreement, was advised by his personal attorney that it was a fair procedure and one that would track to any court procedure, would be less costly, less adversarial and maintain some degree of peace within the family – why not give elder mediation a try in such a circumstance?