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Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20170&cosponId=21323
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 12, 2016 03:17 PM
From: Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Peter Falk's Law - family visitation of incapacitated persons
 
I plan on again introducing legislation that would allow family members to have access and visitation rights with regard to a family member who is incapacitated and under court appointed guardianship. I became aware of the issue, when I was contacted by the daughter of Peter Falk, Catherine Falk, whose situation is an example of why this legislation is necessary.

The actor, beloved as detective Columbo on television, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease which got to the point where a court found it necessary to appoint a guardian over his affairs. The guardian appointed was Mr. Falk’s then current wife, Catherine’s stepmother. When Peter Falk was in his final years battling the disease, Catherine was banned from seeing him by her estranged stepmother. She had to take her fight to probate court. The process cost her $100,000, and was necessitated by the fact that the law did not specifically address this type of issue.

With a growing aging population, and increasing age related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, I believe situations faced by adult children like Catherine Falk are likely to become more common. I don’t believe the average person can, or should have to, go through an expensive court battle just to see their loved ones. The legislation will provide that a guardian cannot restrict visitation between family members and the incapacitated person without first obtaining a court order.

Guardianship is an important legal tool to protect the interests of an incapacitated person, but we should be aware that it can be an isolating experience when there are conflicts between that guardian and family members. My legislation would recognize the rights of immediate family members to see their loved ones, while still also recognizing that there may be instances where a guardian may have to protect their ward from a family member.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation. Co-sponsors from last session were: VULAKOVICH, COSTA, RESCHENTHALER, BARTOLOTTA AND RAFFERTY



Introduced as SB113