When it comes to family, blood may be thicker than water but that doesn’t mean disputes amongst family members won’t erupt. This is often particularly true when it comes to arguments over the assets and personal belongings of a deceased loved one. Family members that are unable to resolve such disputes on their own, often turn to legal professionals and the courts for help.
Five siblings recently filed a lawsuit against their uncle and his wife. At the center of the lawsuit are claims that the defendants convinced the children’s deceased father to transfer assets in the amount of $2 million in their name prior to his death. The disputed assets, the plaintiffs contend, were intended for their benefit and have therefore essentially been stolen by the defendants.
The plaintiffs assert that the defendants convinced their late father to transfer the assets into their name to ensure the man’s ex-wife was not aware of the existence or amount of the assets. Upon the man’s death, the defendants allegedly agreed to distribute the $2 million amongst the man’s five surviving children. To date, however, the plaintiffs have received nothing.
The plaintiffs are seeking to recover the disputed $2 million in assets from their late father’s estate along with an additional $2 million in punitive damages. Additionally, the siblings are requesting that the court deem their late father’s will invalid.
This case proves how complicated and contentious estate disputes amongst family members can grow to become. In this case, the plaintiffs’ case may be difficult to prove unless there is some type of formal documentation that was signed by their late father related to his true intentions for how the assets were to be distributed upon his death.
This case illustrates the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan. Rather than attempt to hide the assets from his ex-wife, the deceased could have taken other steps to ensure assets were distributed directly to his surviving children. Ohio residents, who have similar concerns would be wise to consult with an estate planning attorney who can provide advice and assistance to ensure an individual’s estate planning goals are realized and estate disputes avoided.
Source: The Madison-St. Claire Record, “Children say uncle took more than $2 million of inheritance,” Kelly Holleran, Feb. 24, 2014