Wendy Williams’ Guardianship

Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC

POSTED ON: March 25, 2024
Wendy Williams Guardianship
In 2022, the 59-year-old was placed under temporary financial guardianship after her bank, Wells Fargo, claimed in a New York court that she was an ‘incapacitated person’ and the ‘victim of undue influence and financial exploitation,’ according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Former talk show host Wendy Williams is the subject of a docuseries about her ongoing health and financial battles, which focuses on the months following the start of her guardianship in May 2022. Williams is far from the only celebrity ever placed under guardianship. As an NPR article reported, “Wendy Williams’ guardianship is the subject of a new documentary. Here’s how it works.”

In late February, Williams’ care team announced she had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. Aphasia affects the ability to speak and understand speech, while frontotemporal dementia leads to a loss of function in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

A guardianship, also known as a conservatorship, is a legal process when an individual can no longer manage their own affairs because of an illness, injury, or disability. In some states, there are different types of legal guardianships:

  • Article 17-A Guardianship is for adults 18 or older with an intellectual or developmental disability, whose guardians can make the most decisions for them.
  • Guardianship of a Child is requested by a parent or individual to be granted when there is concern that one or both parents cannot care for the child.
  • Article 81 Guardianship is a type of guardianship where a judge gives a guardian the power only to meet the needs of the person deemed incapacitated, including managing their finances, property, personal needs, or both.

Guardianship cases vary depending on the person’s circumstances and what a judge orders the guardian to do. In many states, they are reviewed on an annual basis. Guardians must keep detailed records of everything they do, from financial transactions to health care decisions.

While individuals don’t always have the choice to choose their guardian, they can sometimes recommend a person they would like to be appointed to the role. A family member is often named. However, there can be an institutional guardian, including a banker or a professional guardian.

There are other ways a person can give someone else decision-making power, including Power of Attorney, typically appointed by the person and made legal with an estate planning attorney. No court involvement is needed.

Supported decision-making agreements are community designations for specific individuals in a person’s life to help make major decisions.

A person or organization approved by the Social Security Administration can manage a person’s Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits is known as a Representative Payee.

The ideal situation is when the person and their spouse or family meet with an estate planning attorney before or shortly after a diagnosis to create a plan and the accompanying legal documents so they can be part of the decision-making process for their future, whatever it may bring.

Reference: NPR (March 1, 2024) “Wendy Williams’ guardianship is the subject of a new documentary. Here’s how it works”