The Guardianship Battle For Glen Campbell

Four years ago, it was announced that Glen Campbell, one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although he tried to remain in control, last June the 78 year old entertainer was admitted to a facility in Nashville which specializes in 24-hour care for patients afflicted with the disease. Sadly, as often happens, in cases like these, this has led to a guardianship battle within Campbell’s family, with his eldest children attempting to take control of their father’s care away from their stepmother.

After several years of helping him try to manage his condition, the decision for Campbell to have professional care was made by Kim Campbell, the singer’s wife of over three decades. Other members of her husband’s family, notably his oldest children from two of his previous marriages, are now trying to get a court-appointed guardian to manage their father’s affairs.

Guardianship petition

In January this year, Travis Campbell and his half-sister, Debby Campbell-Cloyd filed a guardianship petition in Nashville, claiming that their father’s wife has been preventing the rest of the family from “from participating in his care and/or treatment” and keeping their father “secluded from the rest of the family”. The petition asks that a legal guardian and conservators be appointed by the court to protect and manage Campbell’s financial and medical interests.

Superseding health care proxies and powers of attorney, guardianship transfers the legal rights and financial control of a vulnerable person to responsible adult, or the home which provides the resident’s day to care. As I wrote about last month, care facilities are often granted legal guardianship; under Article 81 of New York’s 1993 guardian statute, a nursing home may apply for legal guardianship if it is believed that a patient in their care is no longer able to manage their own affairs.

Mrs Campbell responded to the guardianship petition by saying;

“It is crushingly sad to see him afflicted with Alzheimer’s but indulging those feelings does not help him. I am his wife, and no one wants him home more than me but I must do what is in his best interest.”

Although the guardianship petition has been placed under seal by the Nashville judge, a copy had already been sent to The Associated Press. It claims that there are no regular visits from Campbell’s wife, and that she is not providing him with the basic necessities, such as clothing and toiletries. The petition also alleges that Mrs Campbell is mishandling the singer’s finances, and that his five sons and daughters from his earlier marriages are not allowed to visit. In addition, Campbell’s eldest children allege that their stepmother has allowed inappropriate filming and interviews to be conducted since her husband entered the care facility.

Kim Campbell refutes these allegations however, and says she visits her husband every day, and that he is well and happy. She also says that he enjoys her company, and being with their three children, who also visit regularly, bringing banjos and guitars, which they play for their father and other residents. Kim also says that from time to time, her husband will join in to play guitar too.

Control of finances and health-care

According to a friend of the family, the fight for control of the singer’s career, finances, and health care has been going on for over 10 years, including while he was on his 2012 farewell tour, during which time several of his children, including Debby, performed with their father as backing singers.

Debby, who at 53, is just two years younger than her stepmother, claims that her father has told her he wants to leave the Nashville home. At times she has alleged that Campbell spends his days shut up alone in a small room, staring at a wall. Speaking recently about having to make the 1,500 mile journey from Arizona to Tennessee to visit her father, she said;

“I’m not saying it’s bad by any means but I don’t think he’s getting the attention he needs. If I felt that his family in Nashville was spending hours with him and eating meals with him, it would be different. If I lived there I would want to spend the time he wakes in the morning until the evening with him. But why can’t I do that in the comfort of my own home… instead of flying to Nashville and going to a care facility? I want to take my dad home and take care of him. I know that he is getting along great with the people who are at the facility but that’s not how I feel, as his daughter, he should spend the rest of his life. I feel like he should be surrounded by loved ones at home. I don’t think he’s getting the attention that he needs.”

Professional Alzheimer’s care

Kim Campbell however, doesn’t agree, stating that even with five family members looking after him at home, it was exhausting. In addition, she says that her husband had become a danger to himself and those around him, and that he could not be left alone, for fear he would harm himself. Even though they had taken care to child-proof the house, Kim said her husband nevertheless had to be watched 24 hours a day, citing an incident when she had to use the bathroom, and upon returning a few minutes later, caught Campbell trying to eat a tube of Superglue. There had also been incidents of him brandishing knives about.

“No one was getting any sleep and we were struggling every second to keep him safe” she explained.

Now that she has turned to the professionals for help in looking after her husband, Kim says that the singer is far happier;

“He has long-time friends here in Nashville who come to play music for him and give him hugs. He has activities and therapies to stimulate him and help him experience daily moments of success. His life is filled with love and laughter and he is being cared for around the clock by ­people who specialize in ­Alzheimer’s care, and happen to adore him.”

Although a full-time resident of the care facility, Campbell nevertheless occasionally returns to his home to have dinner with his family.

Meanwhile, Glen Campbell’s oldest children continue with their guardianship petition.

If you are concerned about an elderly or infirm relative, and wish to file a petition for guardianship, New York guardianship lawyer, Richard Cary Spivack, will be happy to assist you through the process. Call 718-544-1000 today, or send an email, for a free consultation.