By Tim Barkley. August 2013.
“Hi, Susan!” The attorney appeared to be talking nonsensically to himself, but everyone who saw him pacing outside his office could make out the telltale flashing blue light at his ear that indicated otherwise. “Late-breaking news! I’m going to be frank: you’re not going to like this but hear me out.
“I just heard from your mother’s court-appointed lawyer, and she says that, after interviewing you and Mary, she’s not convinced that either one of you is really looking out for Mom. She thinks you’re both going to use Mom to get at each other, and that it’s not in Mom’s best interest to be under the control of either of you. She’s going to recommend public guardianship – court-appointed people who will control Mom’s finances and care.”
“That’s ridiculous,” exploded Susan’s voice from the attorney’s earbud. “Of course I can look out for Mom! That’s what kids do for their parents when they get older. She took care of me, now I can take care of her!”
“Nobody’s saying you can’t take care of Mom. Her lawyer is just worried that you won’t be able to do what’s best for Mom if you get a chance to use her to pick on Mary – sort of like divorcing parents using their kids to get back at each other.
“The lawyer says that if you and Mary could agree on someone else to be guardian, she might concur.”
“But Mary’s unreasonable and won’t agree to anything I say!”
“The court-appointed lawyer asked me to ask you a question: Do you love your mother?”
“Of course I love Mom! What kind of stupid question is that?”
“Her point was that if you and Mary can’t agree on who should be guardian of Mom, a judge who doesn’t know or love your mother will decide who controls her care and her money.”
“I can take care of Mom! Can’t we fight to get me appointed guardian?”
“Yes, we can, and spend thousands of dollars doing it, but the judge is not likely to appoint one of you against the court-appointed lawyer’s recommendation in a case like this. Do you think you can work with Mary to decide who should be Mom’s guardian? Maybe one of your brothers, or another relative or friend?”
“I can’t work with Mary. Mary’s a jerk!”
“If Mom’s lawyer asked Mary the same question I just asked you, what do you think Mary would say?”
“I don’t care what Mary’d say. She’s a jerk!”
“Don’t you think Mary would say that she loves her mother?”
“Probably, but just because she wants to keep her hand in the till!”
“Do you think Mary would say that you love Mom?”
“I don’t care what Mary would say!”
“Well, if you think you love Mom, and Mary thinks she loves Mom, maybe both of you could work together to come up with someone who could take care of Mom. I can ask the Court to order mediation to get the two of you talking about a solution, so some stranger in a black robe doesn’t end up making Mom’s important decisions.
“What do you think? Better than leaving it up to somebody who doesn’t even know Mom?”
“I’m not going to sit in the same room with that jerk and let some moron try to sweet-talk us into some agreement. I need to be guardian, that’s why I hired you, and that’s what I want you to tell the judge.”
“Even if that’s not best for Mom?”
“Of course it’s best for Mom! That’s why I want it!”
“Well, I have more news for you. The Court will probably order mediation anyway. The judge doesn’t want to be in this position. So you need to get used to the idea before you have to do it.”
To be continued.
Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
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