Catherine Falk, the daughter of Peter Falk, is advocating for a new law that would grant children the ability to visit their incapacitated or elderly parents. Catherine experienced difficulty visiting her father while he was incapacitated with Alzheimer’s disease. Her stepmother was preventing her from seeing him.
Currently, she has successfully advocated for bills to be submitted to the California and New York legislatures. Those bills are advancing at this time, and she is also in contact with other state legislatures to try and advance similar legislation in other parts of the nation.
According to Catherine Falk, her proposed bills give adult children the legal right to visit their elderly and ailing parent in the event that family members are being prevented from visiting their loved one.
In Catherine’s case, her stepmother prevented her from going to her father’s funeral. Furthermore, the majority of her father’s estate was inherited by her stepmother. Toward the end of his life, her father was incapacitated with Alzheimer’s diseases, he had undergone hip replacement surgery and no one was permitted to visit him. However, when she contested this exclusion in court, she discovered that spouses have first say in the event of incapacitation — particularly with regard to probate, conservatorship and power of attorney.
In order to try to see her father, she had to challenge the conservatorship designation of her stepmother, which is a very expensive probate process. The new law that Catherine is seeking to institute would allow adult children to petition the court for visitation rights without the need for costly probate proceedings. The law would also serve to hold caretakers liable for elder abuse.
Unless this new law is passed, no laws exist to protect the rights of children to visit their ailing parents. However, that does not mean legal avenues are not available for children to seek access to their parents. Furthermore, with proper estate planning, California parents can create estate documents to ensure their children will have access to them in the event of incapacitation.
Source: Newsmax, “Peter Falk’s Daughter: Rights Bills Sparked by Dad’s Case,” Sean Piccoli, May. 14, 2015