A recent New Jersey appeals court case demonstrates how important it is for families to come up with a long-term care plan before an emergency strikes. The case involves two brothers who got into a fight over whether to place their mother in a nursing home – a dispute that resulted in one brother filing a restraining order against the other.
R.G. was the primary caregiver for his parents and their agent under powers of attorney. After R.G.'s mother fell ill, R.G. wanted to place his mother in a nursing home. R.G.'s brother objected to this plan, but R.G. went ahead and had his mother admitted to a nursing home without his brother's consent. R.G.'s brother sent angry and threatening texts and e-mails to R.G., as well as e-mails expressing his desire to find a way to care for their parents in their home. Eventually the men got into a physical altercation in which R.G.'s brother shoved R.G.
R.G. went to court to get a restraining order against his brother under the state’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The trial judge ruled that R.G. had been harassed and assaulted and issued the restraining order. R.G.'s brother appealed, arguing that R.G. did not meet the definition of a victim of domestic violence.
In R.G. v. R.G. (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-0945-15T3, March 14, 2017), a New Jersey appeals court reversed the trial court, ruling that R.G.'s brother's actions did not amount to domestic violence. According to the court, there was insufficient evidence that R.G.'s brother purposely acted to harass R.G., ruling that "a mere expression of anger between persons in a requisite relationship is not an act of harassment."
If the brothers had sat down with their parents before they needed care to explore options and determine their parents' wishes, this drawn-out, costly, and divisive dispute might well have been avoided. Putting a long-term care plan into place can help avoid family conflicts like this one.
If you have questions about your own estate planning, click here to join us for any one of our free educational workshops by clicking here to RSVP.