Money and Gavel

An important aspect of any complete estate plan is determining who will make health care and financial decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. However, determining whether someone has the mental capacity to continue to make decisions for him- or herself can be a subject to dispute. This is particularly when there are conflicts among family members and others close to the person and/or there are significant assets at stake.

Former Girlfriend and Family at Odds

A nasty legal battle is reportedly playing out in a Los Angeles court regarding the mental competency of Sumner Redstone. He's the 92-year-old media mogul who was once at the helm of Viacom and CBS. Amid investor worries about his ability to continue to lead the companies, he resigned as executive chairman earlier this year, becoming chairman emeritus.

Sources close to the case have told the media that a woman who used to be romantically involved with Redstone has challenged his capacity to make changes to his estate plan. She claims that last October when he removed her as the person responsible for carrying out his health care directive and revoked the $70 million in cash and property he had bequeathed her, he was not competent to make those decisions.

Settlement Reportedly in the Works to Avoid Going to Trial

Reportedly, in an effort to avoid a trial that could become embarrassing for Redstone, his daughter and others close to him are working out an agreement with the plaintiff. People involved in the deliberations have said that under the terms of the settlement that's being worked out, the former girlfriend could still get a multi-million-dollar settlement. However, Redstone's daughter and a family friend would be responsible for carrying out his health care directive.

Redstone was examined by a psychiatrist earlier this year as part of the lawsuit. Large parts of his lengthy report were redacted. However, the doctor stated even before examining Redstone that he did not have the capacity to make his own health care decisions.

Situations like this, just like any battle over an estate, can be traumatic for all involved, and likely they are not what the person at the center of them would want for their loved ones. Estate planning attorneys can work to help ensure that a person's wishes as detailed in his or her estate plan are carried out.