As the population ages so do our celebrities who face many of the same elder related legal issues as the rest of us. Buzz Aldrin is yet another example of this. His story caught my attention last month. Aldrin, a local guy, was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey and is known along with Neil Armstrong as the first men to walk on the moon. July 20, 1969 is a date etched in American history. It is one of the first memories I have of an historic event which I personally witnessed.
Aldrin is now 88 years old and living in Florida. 2 of his 3 children have asked a Florida court to appoint them to be his co-guardians, citing his cognitive decline, paranoia and confusion as reasons. Andrew and Janice Aldrin say they want to manage his finances and his businesses. They say he is being manipulated by people he is unfamiliar with.
Aldrin, for his part, says that he is unquestionably competent and does not need a guardian. He has filed a suit against his children and his business manager alleging elder exploitation. As with most of these types of lawsuits it comes down to money. Aldrin says they have taken a sizeable sum of money from him and used it for their own purposes.
Aldrin’s lawyer who represents him in this litigation has characterized what the children are doing as essentially saying that “since you are old and you don’t agree with us then you must be incompetent”. It is impossible to determine based on media reports where the truth lies.
The allegations raised are not any different than the issues that many families with aging parents face. When it happens to the rich and famous, however, it plays out in public. What does appear clear is that Buzz Aldrin has had 3 marriages which ended in divorce and a strained relationship with his children. Being a famous astronaut spending long periods away from his family doesn’t help. He also has been described by his longtime attorney as “not having paid much attention to money matters.” One can only hope that this legal battle doesn’t further deplete his finances. It easily could wipe out his savings.