With Father’s Day just around the corner we thought our Michigan readers might be interested in a story about the need to protect our elderly loved ones from a variety of threats, including dementia. The story involves the elderly father of Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon and her brother who have requested their father, John Witherspoon be placed into a conservatorship.

A court-appointed conservatorship is usually requested by family members if they have concerns a loved one is no longer able to make independent financial decisions on his or her own. The judge will oversee the process of appointing a person or persons to serve as a conservator and ensure specific requirements are followed in compliance with state law. The conservator will then oversee the financial affairs of the individual.

In the Witherspoon case, a judge has appointed an attorney to investigate claims of bigamy and possible dementia, according to released court documents. Betty Witherspoon, who has been married to John for 42-years, said that her husband married another woman, although he was still married to her. A hearing scheduled for that case was postponed indefinitely while the court appointed attorney investigates the claims.

Although Betty and John Witherspoon separated in 1996, they remained married and still attend family functions together, which included their daughter’s wedding in March of last year. Mrs. Betty Witherspoon signed an affidavit stating that when she asked her husband about a wedding announcement in a newspaper he claimed to not know who the woman was or remember getting married to her.

To further complicate matters, Betty Witherspoon is accusing her husband’s new wife of taking out loans posing as his wife and changing his will. The new “Mrs. John Witherspoon” vehemently denies the allegations against her, said her attorney. Betty Witherspoon is asking a family court judge to annul the wedding between John and Tricianne Taylor and order her to return all family possessions and those that she has received, leave all residences and pay all the court costs associated with the case.

Source: Daily Reporter, “Judge appoints lawyer to investigate Reese Witherspoon’s father’s well-being,” May 31, 2012

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