Cona Elder Law


Celebrity Conservatorship: Protecting Adult Children with Addiction

Whether you get your news from the television, the internet, or the good old newspaper, you can’t help but notice the proliferation of stories about celebrities or their children who are struggling with substance abuse issues. Most recently, Cher has been in the news as a result of her Court filing seeking a conservatorship (known as guardianship in New York) over the son she shares with the late Duane Allman. According to various news outlets, due to her son’s drug addiction, Cher is asking that a temporary conservator be appointed for him with the authority to manage his property and thereby protect his assets from unnecessary waste and depletion.

What is a Conservatorship? 

Here in New York, this is referred to as an Article 81 guardianship. Like a conservatorship in other states, a guardian is appointed for an individual who is unable to manage their personal needs and/or financial affairs. Typically, the subject of a guardianship proceeding is a person suffering from impaired cognitive functioning due to a progressive disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease or who has suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke resulting in their inability to make decisions on their own behalf.  But what about a person who is “incapacitated” due to their drug addiction?

Is a Guardianship Proceeding Appropriate For These Otherwise Healthy Individuals? 

The short answer is yes. Like Cher’s Court filing, when a guardianship is sought over a person who only needs assistance due to substance abuse issues, the request to the Court is usually for the appointment of a temporary guardian. Why? Because unlike dementia for example, the prognosis for cognitive improvement in a person suffering from substance abuse is quite good, operating under the assumption that they will receive the treatment necessary to get better and remain sober. Therefore, a guardianship seeking the appointment of a guardian for an individual dealing with drug addiction should be tailored for a specific purpose and for a finite duration. However, it’s important to note that while guardianship may, in the short term, put pressure on the subject of the proceeding to engage in treatment, the likelihood of the individual conquering their addiction remains entirely dependent upon that person accepting help. At a minimum, the successful appointment of a temporary guardian will serve to mitigate the damage to the subject’s person and property while they address and hopefully resolve their issues.

Cona Elder Law is an award-winning law firm concentrating in the areas of elder law, estate planning, corporate and succession planning, guardianship, estate administration and litigation, and health care law.  The firm has been ranked the #1 Elder Law Firm by Long Island Business News for eight consecutive years.  For additional information, please contact us

About the Author Cona Elder Law

Cona Elder Law is a full service law firm based in Melville, LI. Our firm concentrates in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration and litigation, special needs planning and health care facility representation. We are proud to have been recognized for our innovative strategies, creative techniques and unparalleled negotiating skills unendingly driven toward our paramount objective - satisfying the needs of our clients.

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