Monday, June 13, 2005

Joan Kennedy stripped of rights by judge, family

What a sadly fitting event this is in the year of Rosemary Kennedy's death. "Losing your sharp edge" around the Kennedys is a spiritual, if not literal, death sentence. How dare they call this a "settlement."

Joan Kennedy Settles Guardianship Case
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 12, 2005

BOSTON -- Joan Kennedy has reached a settlement with her children that calls for two trustees to manage her estate, while a guardian supervises her personal affairs, a source close to the case said Sunday.

The settlement also calls for the former wife of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy to enter a program to treat her alcoholism, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Kennedy's three children, including U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., had been scheduled to appear in court Monday to ask a judge to appoint a permanent legal guardian to manage their mother's finances and to make decisions about her health.

The hearing was canceled following the agreement on the settlement, said Patrick Kennedy's spokeswoman, Robin Costello. She declined to provide any further details.

Joan Kennedy's attorney also declined to comment on the settlement, but said his client will not have a permanent legal guardian managing her estate.

The anonymous source said the guardian ad litem will monitor Joan Kennedy's finances and health and report to a judge, but will not have the power to make decisions for her. The source also said her estate _ including a $6.4 million oceanfront home on Cape Cod _ will be held in a trust and managed by two trustees.

Joan Kennedy, 68, has been arrested several times for drunken driving and gone through rehab repeatedly. In March, she was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken shoulder after a passer-by found her sprawled on a Boston sidewalk.

Kennedy didn't contest her children's bid for guardianship last July, when a judge ruled she was "incapable of taking care of herself by reason of mental illness."

More details from a prior article:

Bruce D. Bixby, a Boston lawyer who specializes in probate law, said awarding permanent guardianship would forever change Joan Bennett Kennedy's life. He said the guardianship would remain in effect unless she convinces a judge that she can live on her own again.

''If you commit a crime, you go to jail," Bixby said. ''In a guardian situation, if you start losing your sharp edge, you can wind up having all your freedoms taken away indefinitely -- without ever having harmed a soul. . . . You can't be in charge of your own money, you can't be in charge of healthcare decisions."


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