Regardless of age or circumstances, losing a loved one is often difficult for family members and friends. When that loss is accompanied by questions and suspicions about the descendant’s will or estate, things can quickly escalate to the point where legal action is necessary.
The estate of a woman who died in 2012 at the age of 93 is currently at the center of a dispute that could result in criminal charges being brought against a public official. The estate dispute revolves around the actions of a police officer who befriended the elderly woman prior to her death. He subsequently introduced her to an attorney who then drafted a new will that named the officer as the primary beneficiary to a trust worth $1.8 million dollars.
The woman had a previous will that was drafted in 2009 which left money to her grandson and only living heir as well as at least two hospitals. Those parties named in the 2009 have filed a lawsuit in which they accuse the police officer of using undue influence to coerce the elderly woman into leaving the bulk of her fortune to him.
The police officer recently requested that the woman's medical records and health information be sealed from public record. A judge, however, ruled to allow the documents to remain public believing members of the public should have access to the information as the case involves public officials. The plaintiffs in the case contend the 93-year-old suffered from dementia prior to her death and was therefore not of sound and body at the time she signed the new will.
Family members or close friends who have concerns over how a loved one's assets were distributed may choose to take legal action and formally contest a will or dispute an estate matter. In cases where an individual lacked the mental capacity to make decisions related to their estate, undue influence and coercion may have been employed.
Source: SeaCoastonline.com, "Judge: Officer's inheritance dispute must be heard in public," Elizabeth Dinan, Oct. 31, 2013