Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Buzz Aldrin sues children, alleging misuse of his finances

Mr Aldrin's children said their father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin laughs at a joke told by US President Donald Trump at a meeting at the White House earlier this month. Reuters
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin laughs at a joke told by US President Donald Trump at a meeting at the White House earlier this month. Reuters

Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin is suing two of his children and a former business manager, accusing them of misusing his credit cards, transferring money from an account and slandering him by saying he has dementia.

Mr Aldrin's lawsuit filed earlier this month in a Florida state court came a week after his children, Andrew and Janice, filed a petition claiming their father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion. They asked for the court to name them his legal guardians, saying Mr Aldrin was associating with new friends who were trying to alienate him from his family and that he had been spending his assets at "an alarming rate".

Court-appointed mental-health experts planned to evaluate Mr Aldrin in Florida this week.

In April, the 88-year-old underwent his own evaluation conducted by a geriatric psychiatrist at UCLA, who said Mr Aldrin scored "superior to normal" for his age on tests.

"I also believe that he is perfectly capable of providing for his physical health needs, food, clothing and shelter, and is substantially able to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence," said Dr James Spar in a letter to Mr Aldrin's attorney.

In Mr Aldrin's lawsuit, the former astronaut asked a judge to remove Andrew Aldrin from control of his financial affairs, social-media accounts and several non-profit and business enterprises. Andrew Aldrin had been a trustee of his father's trust. Buzz Aldrin said in the complaint that despite revoking the power of attorney he had given his son, Andrew Aldrin continued making financial decisions for him.

"Specifically, defendant Andrew Aldrin, as trustee, does not inform plaintiff of pending or future business transactions, removes large sums of monies from plaintiffs accounts, and continues to represent plaintiff in business and social capacities despite plaintiff's repeated requests for such representations to be terminated," the lawsuit said.

Mr Aldrin accused his daughter, Janice, in the lawsuit of not acting in his financial interests and conspiracy, and he accused his former manager, Christina Korp, of fraud, exploitation of the elderly and unjust enrichment. Also named in the lawsuit are several businesses and foundations run by the family.

Aldrin's oldest son, James, is not involved in the legal fight.

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In a statement, Andrew and Janice Aldrin said they were saddened by the "unjustifiable" lawsuit.

"If nothing else, our family is resilient and our ability to work together to solve problems and accomplish great things is strong," the two Aldrin children said. "We love and respect our father very much and remain hopeful that we can rise above this situation and recover the strong relationship that built this foundation in the first place."

They said they would have no further comment.

In a guardianship evaluation, the mental-health experts typically ask questions such as "Who is the president? What day of the week is it? If I gave you this amount of money, how much change would you have," said Vicki Levy Eskin, an Orlando-area attorney with no connection to the Aldrin case.

"His alleging that his children have done all these naughty things is a good defence," said Ms Eskin, whose work focuses on guardianship, estate planning and elderly law issues. "That's the job of his attorney to prove this."

Mr Aldrin was a member of the Apollo 11 crew that landed the first two humans on the Moon. Mr Aldrin joined Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface in July 1969. Earlier this month, Mr Aldrin was at the White House for President Donald Trump's announcement directing the Pentagon to create the "Space Force" as a new military branch.