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Judges orders conservatorship over Peter Falk

My prior posts about the Peter Falk conservatorship case describe how his wife, Shera, and adopted daughter, Catherine, were fighting over the right to make his decisions due to his Alzheimer's disease and dementia.Peter Falk

The judge previously stated that he was going to side with Shera, but he wanted a hearing about Catherine's relationship with her father, to see if Shera should be ordered to allow visitations.  Shera (who is not Catherine's mother) said that Catherine didn't visit before, when Peter was fully competent, so why should she be permitted to visit now?

Last week, Catherine testified at length about her relationship with her famous father, Emmy-winning star of Colombo.  He used to send her hundreds of postcards, and they had recently rekindled their relationship.  Catherine testified that when she tried to visit her father, Shera wouldn't allow it and even slammed the door in her face.  Catherine said she just wanted to be next to her father.

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Peter Falk's daughter is losing the conservatorship battle

I've previously posted about the Peter Falk guardianship / conservatorship filing by his daughter, due to his Alzheimer's disease, and about the family feud that began when his wife objected to the daughter's requests, which is not unusual in second-marriage situations.  Now, the case appears to be nearing resolution.  The judge hearing the conservatorship case has been ruling against Falk's daughter, Catherine Falk.

Several days ago, conservatorship attorneys appeared in court for Catherine Falk and Peter's Falk wife, Shera Falk, to determine what would come of Catherine's legal petition to appoint a new decision-maker for her father, whom she claimed was unable to make decisions due to his Alzheimer's disease.  She alleged Peter needed to be protected for his health and safety, as well as financially to insulate him from fraud and undue influence.    Peter Falk 3

Shera Falk, married to 81-year old Peter Falk for 32 years, claimed she had the legal authority to make decisions for him already due to power of attorney documents, so there was no need for a conservator to be appointed.  She denied he needed protection or was in any danger.

The judge ruled in favor of Shera Falk, and decided not to grant the daughter's request.  In fact, Catherine had already withdrawn her petition for conservatorship over his financial decisions, and the court felt that Peter's care was being properly managed by his wife.  The court-appointed attorney who investigated the daughter's claims had previously reported to the judge that no conservator was needed, and the judge agreed in the recent court hearing.

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Peter Falk case update: The fight is on!

As I discussed in a previous post about Peter Falk's daughter filing for guardianship / conservatorship over him, due to his Alzheimer's disease, guardianship and conservatorship cases involving second-marri age situations always have the potential for conflict.  In my metro-Detroit probate litigation practice, I see fighting between the current spouse and adult children from a prior marriage all the time in these types of probate cases.  That's why I wrote in my earlier post that Peter Falk's case could lead to trouble.Peter Falk 3 

Unfortunately for the Falk family, I was correct.  As the Associated Press reported in this recent article, Peter Falk's wife of 32 years, Shera Falk, hired an attorney and contested the conservatorship filing by Peter's daughter, Catherine Falk.  Shera claims that Peter already made arrangements for her to care for him, and he gets round-the-clock nursing care.  Catherine in turn alleges that Shera has prevented her from seeing her father since last Father's Day. 


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Peter Falk may need a guardian

Sadly, the daughter of actor Peter Falk, age 81, has filed for guardianship / conservatorship over her father.  Catherine Falk recently initiated legal proceedings in Los Angeles County Superior Court (which is what the local probate court is called there) due to her father's Alzheimer's disease.  She asks for the appointment of a conservator over his person (called guardianship in most states) because he "requires full-time custodial care for his health and safety."  She also asks for a conservator over his finances to make his financial decisions to protect him from "fraud or undue influence" because she is worried that he may be deceived into transferring away his property.Falk 2

Guardianships and Conservatorships are probate court proceedings where people ask a judge to declare someone legally incapable of making appropriate decisions and to appoint someone to make decisions for him or her.  These, like other legal proceedings, are public records and can be difficult and expensive when conflicts or other problems arise.

Like other probate court matters, they can usually be avoided.  If Peter Falk had a proper estate plan, including a power of attorney, he could have named his daughter or someone else he trusted to make his decisions for him if the time came when he no longer could.  Of course, even when someone has a power of attorney, court proceedings like these can still be necessary if there is family conflict.

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