Following last week’s breaking news story reported here about the alleged mistreatment of 104 year old socialite and heiress Brooke Astor, New York’s Supreme Court has stepped in and appointed Ms. Astor’s longtime friend and protegee Annette de la Renta as her temporary guardian. This morning, it was reported that Ms. Astor has left a Manhattan hospital for the cushier surroundings of her estate at Briarcliff Manor where her son –and former guardian– 82 year old Anthony Marshall was turned away when he attempted to visit.
It is likely that further court hearings will take place before the court makes its findings and appoints a new permanent guardian for Ms. Astor. The problem here is that it takes a concerned friend, relative or caregiver to step forward and to commence proceedings when an elderly or incompetent person is being abused by a guardian. Absent this, it is unlikely that the plight of an abused or neglected ward will come to light. A recent New York Times editorial entitled "If it Could Happen to Brooke Astor" underscores just how serious a concern this can be. Who would have suspected that one of New York’s wealthiest, high profile social figures might find herself a virtual prisoner in her own home without access to the basic necessities of life?
Commenting to this blog in response to my first article on Ms. Astor’s plight, Naomi Karp of AARP’s Public Policy Institute stressed the need for better court oversight in guardianship matters and cited her organization’s excellent research report which you may access here for greater insight into and information about this serious problem.