A Case of Conservatorship

What’s the point of getting a power of attorney if the court system doesn’t honor it?

Several years ago [a friend of mine], now 88, designated a power of attorney and an alternative power of attorney for health care. At that time, an attorney testified he was competent to make that decision.

He had been put under conservatorship of the estate since he was a binge drinker.

[My friend] doesn’t believe in pharmaceutical drugs, and refused to take the antipsychotic medications like Seroquel given to him by his doctor. Antipsychotic medications carry the FDA’s black box warning: They nearly double the risk of death for elders, and have severe side effects. (Go to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform at to learn more.)

My friend had designated his girlfriend, [name withheld], power of attorney. She objected to his being given these medications, and wanted to get a second opinion from a holistic doctor who does non-drug alternatives. She’s been accused of interfering with [her boyfriend’s] medical care. She feels that these drugs are killing him, and that he doesn’t have dementia but a drug-induced comatose state, which these drugs can do to people.

Judge Colleen Sterne dissolved the power of attorney and put [my friend] in the hands of a professional conservator. Why didn’t she consider the alternative power of attorney he designated?

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