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Cautionary planning tale involving famed American moon walker

Global pop superstar Michael Jackson commanded legendary status for myriad reasons, including his ability to do the iconic and unforgettable “moonwalk” dance move.

News flash: He wasn’t the first.

Or even the second. That distinct honor goes to famed American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who set foot on the lunar surface just after fellow adventurer Neil Armstrong did back in 1969. The exploits of the Apollo 11 crew are memorialized eternally and in countless ways.

It might be reasonably assumed that Aldrin, now 88 years old, would be contentedly basking presently in his personal fame and accomplishments, surrounded by a supportive family.

Such is not the case, though. In fact, recent news reports indicate that Aldrin is now communicating with his children and a former business manager largely through litigation filings. Two of his adult children filed a petition earlier this month claiming that their father is incompetent to handle his financial affairs and to resist third-party attempts to unduly influence him. They seek legal guardianship over him.

Aldrin’s take on that, gleaned through a lawsuit he filed just a week later in response to his children’s claims, is sharp and clear. He calls the allegations bogus and says his kids are slandering him. Moreover, he states that they and his ex-manager are unlawfully controlling his financial affairs, seeking to exploit him because of his age and unjustly enriching themselves at his expense.

Aldrin had a cognitive evaluation at UCLA in April. The psychiatrist who examined him concluded that he is “perfectly capable” of providing for himself and resisting efforts aimed at exploiting or defrauding him.

The case is sad, of course, but also notable for a fact pattern that is similarly related these days in many other high-profile estate-related matters (please see our June 21 blog post chronicling the current litigation surrounding the estate of famed comic genius Stan Lee).

America’s senior population is large and aging. Tales like Lee’s and Aldrin’s are instructive and cautionary, and underscore the need for timely, tailored and carefully crafted estate planning.

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