It doesn’t uniformly raise eyebrows when an individual appointed with decision-making powers concerning another person’s finances or health care questions the latter’s capacity. That actually happens routinely in California and across the country, often in cases where an agent spotlights alleged diminished capacity owing to extreme age and related factors.
Those eyebrows figuratively noted above will flutter, though, in select instances.
Like where immense wealth is involved, for example. And when a person whose competency is challenged exercises great power in the business world.
We segue here to Summer Redstone, the tremendously rich and powerful ex-chairman of Viacom Inc. and CBS. Redstone (who is now 95) and his family have been involved in an acrimonious and decidedly high-profile estate battle since 2015.
Things began to heat up that year when Redstone summarily revoked a health care power of attorney granted to a much younger live-in companion, kicked her out of his mansion and revised his estate plan to exclude her.
She didn’t take that passively. Instead, she questioned his competency, which sent shock waves throughout the media world and investment community.
Additionally, it served as the first shot in a protracted legal battle that finally ended just last month in a settlement that terminated all legal claims between the litigants.
Redstone did relinquish his formal control over the above companies as his dispute slogged on in the courts. The multi-year spat included accusations that the media scion’s family members were unlawfully wresting control over both his empire and him personally. Those were coupled with return salvos alleging fraud and unjust gains of scores of millions of dollars by the former companion.
The recent settlement requires the ex-partner to pay back $3.25 million to Redstone’s estate. Redstone was appointed a court guardian late last year.