Isolation of vulnerable adults is a serious problem.  For example, your sister is caring for mom and won’t let you visit. Or your brother is dad’s guardian and won’t let dad talk to you on the phone.

Remember radio legend Casey Kasem? He suffered from Parkinson’s disease for years. His children wanted to visit. His wife of 33 years (their stepmother) said “no”. What happened?  A high-profile court battle, of course.

Kasem left behind many legacies, among them the American Top 40 countdown.  Kasem’s family battle left behind a trail of legal changes. Those changes involved modernizing guardianship visitation laws across the country.  Michigan has just joined the trend by adding visitation provisions to its guardianship law.

The technical statutory cite to the new law is MCL 700.5306(6), and it becomes effective March 19, 2020.  In order to get visitation under the new law, you must show that:

  1. The person is incapacitated;
  2. Another person has “care and custody” over the incapacitated person;
  3. The person with custody is denying you access to the incapacitated person; and
  4. The incapacitated person desires contact with you or that contact with you is in the incapacitated person’s best interest.

If you establish the above elements by “clear and convincing evidence”, the court may appoint a limited guardian to supervise your access with the incapacitated person.

While probate courts have always had the authority to deal with visitation issues, this new addition to the law sets forth specific visitation standards to be followed by a probate judge.  We can only hope it brings more harmony to divided and feuding families.

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