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Man's fate regarding need for guardian will be decided by a jury

When an individual is no longer able to competently manage his or her affairs, a guardian may be appointed to handle matters on that person's behalf. However, what dictates when a person is incapacitated?

For some individuals in New Jersey, incapacitation is obvious. A person who is in a coma or who suffers from Alzheimer's disease may seem like an obvious candidate. However, for other individuals, there can be a slippery slope in determining who needs a guardian versus who just exhibits a characteristic of aging.

One nursing home recently filed a petition stating that one of their 72-year-old residents needed a guardian. The man's lawyer objected, saying the man has the mental capacity to handle his own financial affairs. The final decision will come down to a jury.

The man, Richard, was admitted to the nursing home to recover after he was treated for infected leg wounds in early 2010. Since then, the nursing home claims he has been delinquent in paying his bills to the center, and they think a guardian could better manage his finances.

The nursing home also noted what they described as unusual behavior. One spokesperson claimed the man made unusual decisions in what to wear and did not dress appropriately for cold weather outside. She also said he exhibited Schizophrenic tendencies.

Richard's attorney pointed to Richard's independent nature. As a young man, Richard spent 10 years working in the Navy, and he later worked as a logger. Like most autonomous older citizens, he just wants to be in control of his property.

Read more in the next post to learn about the outcome of the trial.

Source: The Columbian, "Man's mental state at issue in guardianship case," Laura McVicker, 28 March 2011

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