The wife of former Yahoo! and Warner Bros. executive Terry Semel filed court papers Wednesday seeking to have herself and her daughter named co-conservators of her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Jane Semel’s Los Angeles Superior Court papers were filed several days after Semel’s 39-year-old son asked that a judge appoint a conservator to manage his 75-year-old father’s finances. He says in his May 10 petition that his dad is mentally incapable of handling his own affairs.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday on Jane Semel’s petition and on Eric Semel’s request that attorney Andrew Wallet, a co-conservator of singer Britney Spears, be named to manage his father’s financial affairs and to make sure he has the proper living arrangements.
His petition says Jane Semel relocated her husband from their Bel-Air estate to a one-bedroom apartment at the Motion Picture & Television Fund-operated retirement community in Woodland Hills. She currently has sole control over her husband’s finances and there is dissension between her and some of his four children, according to the son’s petition.
But Jane Semel says in her court papers that in August 2012, her husband executed an advanced health care directive in which he named her and her daughter, Lily, as his agents to make his health care decisions. She says she and her daughter are suited to become co-conservators of her husband, who she says was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago.
“Over time, Terry’s dementia got worse and he eventually experienced severe cognitive impairment, including the loss of most of his short- and long-term memory, severe impairment of his verbalization skills and an increasing inability to control his impluses and physical movements,” her court papers state.
Semel’s caretaker, Maria Iraheta, said in a sworn declaration submitted this week on Eric Semel’s behalf that the onetime studio chief communicates orally, but “frequently his speech is incoherent.” Iraheta also said that Jane Semel did not immediately allow a doctor to give him antibiotics when he was sick with pneumonia this winter.
Iraheta, who was hired by Semel’s wife in July 2016, said she arrived at her night shift in January to find him “feverish and coughing.”
Semel was taken to a hospital, where an emergency room doctor took a chest X-ray and diagnosed him with pneumonia, according to Iraheta.
“The doctor wanted to prescribe antibiotics for Terry, but Jane refused,” Iraheta says in the declaration. “Jane said taking too much medicine is bad for you. Instead, Jane asked the doctor to prescribe cough syrup.”
Iraheta said she was eventually able to give Semel antibiotics and believes her boss’ personal assistant/driver succeeded in convincing Jane Semel it was the wiser course of action.
But Jane Semel says in her court papers that she researched her husband’s physical diagnosis and found out he did not have pneumonia. Nonetheless, she says, she “personally went downstairs to pick up the antibiotics and other medications for my husband to be administered by the doctor as prescribed.”
Jane Semel she has always acted in her husband’s best interests.
“I have done my best to provide for all my husband’s needs and to make his life as comfortable and positive as I am able,” Jane Semel says.
Semel was the chairman and CEO of Yahoo! from 2001 to 2007. Before that, he spent 24 years at Warner Bros., where he served as chairman and co-CEO, resigning amid shareholders’ dissatisfaction over his compensation package.
In 2004, the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute was renamed the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. At the time, the university said the couple’s $25 million gift was one of the nation’s largest to be dedicated exclusively to the better understanding of the brain.
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