Celebrity Guardianship: Zsa Zsa Gabor

The battle over who should be appointed as the guardian of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has been settled for the time being. Zsa Zsa’s daughter from her prior marriage to hotel magnate, Conrad Hilton, had previously opposed the appointment of Zsa Zsa’s current (and ninth) husband as her mother’s guardian. However, the two sides have agreed that Zsa Zsa’s husband should serve as the temporary guardian responsible for making her medical decisions, while independent attorneys would serve as the temporary guardians responsible for overseeing her finances.

Often times, the drama associated with a contested guardianship matter is not over the determination that a loved one is in the need for the appointment of a guardian, but rather whom should be appointed as the guardian. While the Texas Probate Code provides that certain individuals (i.e. a spouse) are entitled to be appointed as the guardian in preference to any other person (i.e. an adult child from a prior marriage), the law also provides that a person with preference must not be “disqualified.” A Texas court must find a person disqualified from serving as guardian if that person is, among other reasons, notoriously bad, a party to a lawsuit concerning the welfare of the proposed ward, indebted to the proposed ward, or found unsuitable by the court. Accordingly, if the fight over Zsa Zsa’s guardianship were to happen in Texas, her husband may have priority to serve as her guardian, but he could be disqualified from serving.

Attorneys who specialize in guardianship law are equipped to understand the dichotomy of these two provisions. Ford + Mathiason LLP routinely assists clients on both sides of the aisle – family members that are concerned an unsuitable person is attempting to be appointed as a loved one’s guardian and individuals who need help in defending their right to be appointed as the guardian.