Etta James’s Story
R&B singer Etta James won six Grammy Awards during her career. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. That same year, she signed a Power of Attorney appointing her son Donto James to look after her property. Not surprisingly, her current husband, Artis Mills, challenged the Power of Attorney on the basis that she was not competent when she signed it. Years of litigation ensued, with bitter fighting among family members over control of Etta’s property during her last years.
Lawyer’s comment: No one plans on getting Alzheimer’s or any other disability. But if that happens, it may be too late to make a valid Power of Attorney for Property. If you don’t have a Power of Attorney for Property already in place, your family members will not be able to manage your affairs without going through a lengthy and expensive process to have a Guardian of Property appointed by the court. Having a Power of Attorney for Property, which gives someone of your choice the power to manage your property on your behalf, is an important part of your estate plan.