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Billionaire to have his mental competancy examined

Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner Redstone is having his mental competency examined by a geriatric psychiatrist. The examination is part of a legal battle initiated by his ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, who was removed from his mansion last October.

Herzer wants to be the elderly billionaire's agent for his advance health-care directive, a status she formerly held until Redstone replaced her with the chief executive officer of Viacom, Philippe Duaman. Herzer is arguing that Redstone was mentally incompetent when he decided to remove her as his agent.

At month's end, a California probate court will consider the psychologist's findings to determine whether Herzer's claims are valid. The court will then decide whether it needs to take action to protect Redstone's interests and reinstate Herzer as his advance health care agent.

The 92-year-old billionaire's personal physicians say that the elderly man is not mentally incapacitated and he is currently making decisions for his own health care. Furthermore, according to Redstone's lawyers, Herzer had to be evicted from her ex-boyfriend's mansion and she is primarily worried about receiving her share of the elderly man's estate -- not his actual well being.

Meanwhile, Herzer offers a different take on the matter. She says that she was kicked out of the mansion last October, but Redstone -- who she described as a living ghost of a man -- and he did not fully understand what was happening. Furthermore, she says that she was removed from the home against the best interests of the Viacom chairman.

Questions of mental competency are important whenever someone reaches an advanced age and begins to lose his or her mental faculties. However, it is not unheard of for unscrupulous individuals to try and gain control of an elderly individual's assets. This is why probate courts and estate lawyers are involved in making such decisions through legal processes designed to protect the individual's rights and well being.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Redstone faces Friday doctor's examination over competency," Christopher Palmeri and Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg, Jan. 28, 2016

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