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Khloé, Tristan & Amari: The Question of Guardianship Amidst Complex Family Dynamics

Tristan and Khloé are no longer together; what are her legal obligations to his brother? Explore the complexities of legal Guardianship, medical agency, and more.

In a more recent episode of The Kardashians, Khloé revealed more information regarding the estate of Andrea Thompson, the late mother of Tristan Thompson. In these scenes, she revealed that Andrea had appointed her to assist with medical responsibilities for Amari, Tristan's younger brother who lives with severe disabilities. However, Tristan and Khloé are not married. What are the laws that possibly apply to this situation? What are Khloé's legal obligations? Trust & Will investigates.

Tristan and Khloé family dynamics

Before we begin, it's important to paint a picture of Tristan Thompson and Khloé Kardashian's relationship dynamics as they impact the legalities of this discussion.

Tristan Thompson (32) is a Canadian-American basketball player who once dated television personality Khloé Kardashian (39). Together they share a daughter, True (5).

After six years, the famous pair separated after the truth of Tristan's infidelities came to public light.  Things became confusing to the public when Tristan moved back in with Khloé this year, although Khloé has remained adamant that the living arrangement is purely platonic.

The passing of Andrea Thompson

Trust & Will first reported on the death of Tristan Thompson's mother in "Keeping up with Estate Planning Trends: The Kardashians and Their Legacy, " where we stressed the importance of estate planning to set up a Guardianship if you have a loved one with a disability.

Andrea Thompson, who passed away in January 2023, was survived by Tristan and his younger brother Amari. The latter has a severe form of epilepsy and requires intensive care and treatment. Andrea played a critical part in the decisions made for Amari's care, and since her passing, the baton has been passed on to Tristan.

What is guardianship in estate planning?

Although the details of Andrea's estate plan has not been released to the public, one might assume that she had set up a Guardianship for Amari, with Tristan appointed as his Guardian.

A Guardianship in estate planning is a legal framework that can be established to safeguard the rights and interests of individuals who cannot make decisions for themselves due to physical or mental incapacitation. This arrangement is often applied to minors, elderly individuals, or those with severe medical conditions. The appointed Guardian, in this case, has the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the individual (known as the ward) concerning their health, education, and general welfare. It is crucial to note that Guardianships should be clearly defined in an individual's estate plan to ensure a seamless transition of responsibilities upon their death or incapacitation. Each Guardianship is subject to court approval and ongoing court supervision to protect the ward's interests.

As a Guardian, Tristan would take on a broad range of responsibilities concerning Amari's personal and medical needs. Some of these tasks might include:

1. Medical care: Tristan would be responsible for making critical medical decisions for Amari, including choosing healthcare providers, approving medical procedures, and ensuring he receives necessary and appropriate treatments for his epilepsy.

2. Personal care: This includes making decisions about Amari's day-to-day living and well-being, such as his diet and routine, personal hygiene, and social activities.

3. Education: Tristan would oversee Amari's education, including selecting an appropriate school or educational program, and advocating for any special education services or accommodations required due to his condition.

4. Financial management: Depending on the terms of the Guardianship, Tristan might also be expected to manage finances on Amari's behalf. This could involve overseeing his financial resources, allocating funds for his care, and ensuring his financial obligations are met.

5. Legal representation: As a Guardian, Tristan would represent Amari's interests in legal matters. This could include advocating for his rights in court if necessary, and ensuring his best interests are always at the forefront of any decisions.

The extent of Tristan's responsibilities as a Guardian would largely depend on the stipulations of the Guardianship outlined in Andrea's estate plan.

Khloé's role in the estate: is she a guardian?

In a recent episode of The Kardashians, Khloé revealed that Tristan’s mother had appointed her to help out with medical “things” for Amari. During the interview, she shared that she wanted to honor Andrea's wishes and continue "helping out."

"I want to make sure Tristan makes the right decisions," said Khloé.

Family ties aside, this makes us wonder what Khloé's obligations are from a legal standpoint. What if she didn't want to help out? Would she still be legally obligated per Andrea's final wishes?

The factual truth of the matter cannot be determined unless the details of Andrea Thompson's estate plan are revealed, assuming that they exist. With this in mind, let's break down Khloé's possible legal obligations in two scenarios:

  • If Khloé is officially named as one of Amari's Guardians

  • If Khloé is officially named as one of Amari's Medical Agents

  • If Khloé is not named in Andrea's estate planning documents in any capacity

1. Guardianship appointment

When it comes to Guardianship appointments after the death of a primary caretaker, legal intricacies can indeed become complex, particularly when the appointed individual is not in a legal relationship with the incapacitated person. (Khloé and Tristan were never married.)

The law varies significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in general, a person's wishes as expressed in a valid Will or estate plan are usually respected. However, the court retains the ultimate authority to appoint a guardian.

If, for instance, Khloé had been appointed by Andrea to be a guardian for Amari in her Will or estate plan, the court would typically take this into consideration. However, Khloé's actual role and responsibilities would depend on many factors, including local laws, the specific terms of Andrea's Will, and the court's assessment of what is in Amari's best interest.

If Khloé decided she was unwilling or unable to fulfill the role, she generally would have the right to decline. In such a case, the court would need to appoint a new guardian, which could be Tristan or another suitable person. And as always, the guiding principle in these situations is the best interest of the incapacitated person — in this case, Amari.

2. Medical agent appointment

In a recent interview on "The Kardashians," Khloé mentions specifically that Andrea had appointed her for medical assistance in the U.S.

"She appointed me to help her with anyone medically and told all of Amari’s medical staff that, and now that she’s not here, I’m still going to honor what she’s asked of me. I take that very seriously. I would just always want to be there for Tristan to help him make the right decisions. I think that’s what Andea would want," she said.

The possibility of Khloé acting as a medical proxy for Amari introduces another layer to the situation. In this role, Khloé would have the authority to make medical decisions for Amari in the event that he is unable to do so himself. Due to Amari's severe disability, he is permanently incapacitated, meaning that the medical proxy role is in effect indefinitely. This is a significant responsibility and often entrusted to someone who is trusted and reliable. Khloé's appointment as a medical proxy by Andrea indicates a high level of trust in her ability to act in Amari's best interest. Additionally, her commitment to honor Andrea's wishes further solidifies her readiness to take on this role. However, it's important to note that the role of a medical proxy varies by jurisdiction and the specifics of the agreement. As such, Khloé's responsibilities and authority could differ based on specific legal parameters.

3. Verbal agreement only

In the scenario where Khloé and Andrea only had a verbal agreement for Amari's Guardianship, things can be significantly murkier. While verbal agreements can sometimes carry legal weight, in matters as serious as child Guardianship, courts typically rely on written documents.

If there were no written instructions nominating Khloé as a Guardian, she would not be automatically assumed to have any formal legal obligations towards Amari. However, if she wished to assume Guardianship, she could potentially apply to the court for a Guardianship order. The court would then examine whether granting her Guardianship would be in Amari's best interests, considering factors such as her relationship with Amari, her ability to provide for Amari's needs, and any evidence of Andrea's wishes. It's important to remember that in cases like these, the child's welfare is the court's primary concern.

Honoring Andrea's wishes

At this time, we are unaware of the status of Andrea's estate plan, as well as any formal legal appointment Khloé may or may not have.

"I was involved with Andrea with most of [her and Amari's] medical appointments here in the United States for about seven plus years," said Khloé during an interview.

Based on this high level of trust and involvement, it is quite possible that Khloé was indeed appointed as a Medical Proxy, either for Amari directly, or indirectly through Andrea's role as Amari's primary caretaker.

Because Khloé is not a legal relative of Amari, she would only be legally responsible for him in any capacity based on a formal legal appointment. If this were the case, it would be her choice to either assume the role, continue it, or refuse it.

Based on Khloé's interviews, it seems clear that she is carrying out Andrea's wishes by continuing to participate in Amari's care regardless of her legal appointment. While the public is often critical of the Kardashian family, she can be commended for her loyalty and kind-heartedness in this regard.

Ensure your wishes are in place

The death of Andrea Thompson was sudden and tragic. Because her son Amari has severe disabilities, it appears as though she was wise and had a contingency plan in place. After her passing, Amari was quickly taken in by Tristan as his primary caretaker, along with Khloé, who is assisting with any medical decisions. Luckily, the family has plenty of financial resources to support Amari and his well-being.

Legal documentation is critical in situations such as these. It provides clarity and direction in times of uncertainty and emotional stress. Especially when dealing with the care of a loved one with special needs, having legal documentation in place ensures that the person's best interest is always at the forefront. An estate plan designates who will take over their care and makes clear any specific wishes or instructions regarding their health and wellbeing. It should also put a plan into place regarding the financial requirements of caretaking. This not only helps to avoid misunderstandings and disputes but also provides peace of mind to all parties involved, knowing that they are fulfilling the exact wishes of the person who has passed. Thus, it is essential to have a comprehensive estate plan in place, which includes a Will, a Power of Attorney, and a Living Will or Healthcare Directive. This will ensure that your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of according to your intentions.

If you haven't yet put an estate plan in place, we strongly encourage you to do so. If you already have one, consider this a friendly reminder to review and update it as necessary. Life is unpredictable, and our circumstances and desires often change over time. An up-to-date estate plan reflects these changes and ensures that your wishes will be carried out the way you intend.

With Trust & Will's online platform, you can easily create and manage your estate plan. It takes courageous foresight to prepare for the future, especially one where we might not be present. But remember, it's not just about you – it's also about alleviating the burden on your loved ones and providing them with clear guidance during a difficult time.

Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of certainty by ensuring your estate plan is in place and up-to-date. Find out more about how to get started with Trust & Will today.

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