In this article CNN.COM first reported on the guardianship litigation involving Brooke Astor, one of America’s most storied and prominent socialites, her only son and guardian, Anthony Marshall, and her grandson Philip Marshall, who is suing his 81 year old father for neglecting his 104 year old grandmother.  In a subsequent article reported here on CNN.COM, Anthony Marshall denies any wrongdoing.  Here is an excerpt from the first CNN.COM articles:

NEW YORK (AP) — She wears torn nightgowns and sleeps on a couch that smells of urine. Her bland diet includes pureed peas and oatmeal. Her dogs, once a source of comfort, are kept locked in a pantry.

A court filing alleges that this is the life of 104-year-old Brooke Astor, the multimillionaire Manhattan socialite who dedicated much of her vast fortune to promoting culture and alleviating human misery.

In addition to be very sad, this story is instructive: guardianship disputes can erupt in any case, no matter how wealthy the ward may be.  This point was underscored in  this New York Times editorial reporting on proposed federal legislation intended to address this issue.  Here is an excerpt from the NY Times piece:

The scandal over Brooke Astor’s care has had the healthy side effect of getting people talking about the needs of the elderly. The 104-year-old former socialite and philanthropist now appears to be getting the attention she needs. But it has inspired people to ask what is being done for old and “older old” people who have no Rockefellers or Kissingers to come to their defense.

Last week the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a bill that would expand the federal system for protecting the elderly from physical, psychological and financial abuse. A second crucial measure, the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, is also being considered by Congress. Important aspects of both bills — like the people they seek to protect — are in danger of sinking beneath the radar as other matters move ahead on the priority list. We’re hoping all the publicity over the alleged mistreatment of Mrs. Astor by her son will change that.