Thursday, January 13, 2011

And So it Begins: Etta James' Family Fight Over Her Money as She Lies on Death Bed

Legendary singer Etta James is on her death bed and her husband of 41 years, Artis Mills, has filed a petition in a California court seeking control of more than $1 million. In February 2008, the singer gave power of attorney to her sons Donto and Sametto and Donto's wife, Christy. Now Artis (pictured, above with Etta and their granddaughter), who filed for divorce in April 2008 (but changed his mind a few months later), is challenging the power of attorney.
Dr. Elaine James, no relation to the singer, declared in the court documents that the singer has multiple medical conditions, including dementia, an organic brain syndrome and a recent diagnosis of leukemia. The Beverly Hills doctor said she and other medical staff give James continuous medical care and supervision in the singer's home in the Woodcrest area, near Riverside. Dr. James said the singer isn't able to sign her name and requires assistance with feeding, dressing and hygiene, but does recognize her husband and children. The doctor said James has been admitted to the hospital on occasion but returns home with round-the-clock care. Mills said in court documents that his wife expressed that "if she ever became disabled, she did not wish to be placed in an institutional nursing facility as long as they had the money to keep her at home." He is asking to move just over $1 million from three of his wife's accounts to a joint account with him or to him alone with James as a beneficiary of those accounts. He is also seeking the power to close those accounts and transfer the money into his name. In the court documents, he said the money would be used for care, maintenance and support of his wife.
In January 2020, Etta was hospitalized with septis, a blood fatal blood infection caused by a uniary tract infection; at the time, she was in a treatment program for an addiction to painkillers and over-the-counter-medicine.

Update: Riverside County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cahraman has ruled that Artis may use $60,000 to pay for Etta's medical care. The money should last until Feb. 24, when Artis is expected back in court to go after the bucks.

Update 2: On the heels of her son's concerns, a judge has ordered Etta to undergo an independent medical evaluation and ordered independent physicians to review her doctor's medical charts. The court expressed concern at the decision of Etta's live-in physician, Dr Elaine James (no relation), to put feeding tubes into the singer's stomach without first bringing her to hospital. Dr James, who's paid $20,000 per month, says of the judge's ruling: "[The judge] can have 10 examiners, he can have 20 physicians to come in that house to perform the duties I do," she said. "I have a list of 23 medical sub-specialties that I have had to treat [Etta] for. She is not an easy patient."
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