Groucho Marx had a will that planned for his loved ones upon his death. But a will cannot offer any protection should a client become disabled. Because of this lack of foresight, the last years of his life were filled with heartbreak, legal battles, and expense.
When Groucho could no longer care for himself –because of his age – his girlfriend, Erin Fleming, asked a probate court to declare Groucho mentally incompetent. This would allow her to be Groucho’s guardian and conservator. As guardian, she would have the power to act as Groucho’s legal parent, controlling his personal life. As conservator, Erin would have the power to handle Groucho’s money.
Erin’s attempt to gain control of Groucho was successful. However, after a few years, Groucho’s relatives became more and more distraught about Erin’s treatment of Groucho, and her ability to use his money for her personal gain. They took Erin to court to have her removed as Groucho’s guardian and conservator.
After several months of one of the most publicized court proceedings in American history, Erin was removed from her position of control. The toll in terms of money and emotional heartbreak was considerable. Among allegations of abuse, attempted murder, and drugs, one point became very clear:
Groucho was the victim of an antiquated legal process, a living probate, that allows disabled Americans to unnecessarily suffer the humiliation and emotional trauma of having their lives subject to a public court proceeding.
A living probate, just like the one Groucho went through, is public in every sense of the word. It is humiliating because all the physical, mental, emotional, and monetary facts about the person are exposed. The facts are readily available to everyone, from morbid curiosity seekers to gold diggers.
Groucho died a few days after the court battle ended.
Source: The Groucho Marx Story
A Loving Trust - Groucho Marx Story
Think about picking a financial guardian