Multiple Parties Challenge Validity of Woman’s Will

January 3, 2014

When someone with a sizable estate passes away in Los Angeles, there may be many different parties affected by that person’s estate planning decisions. In many cases, a person has a will in place which serves as a fairly straightforward way to distribute assets.

However, if and when a person makes dramatic changes to his or her will late in life or immediately before a life-ending event, those changes can and probably should be scrutinized. This can be especially true if a person’s will was changed in such a way that significantly benefits one party, which could raise concerns regarding undue influence. This is exactly what multiple people are saying after they were cut out significantly or completely from a wealthy woman’s will.

According to reports, the woman passed away at the age of 93 in Dec. 2012. That same year, she had apparently made some drastic changes to her will. Previously, she divided up her $1.8 million estate among her friends, family members, longtime acquaintances and charitable organizations. However, after she passed away, these parties learned that the most current will excluded just about every one of them and replaced these recipients with just one: a police sergeant.

It is not surprising that the other parties were particularly confused and upset by this. One by one, they filed claims alleging that the sergeant exerted undue influence on the woman and took advantage of her deteriorating mental capabilities. The case will be heard next year to determine whether their claims are legitimate and how the woman’s estate will be divided.

This is just one example of how significantly others can be affected by the terms set in a person’s estate plan. Rather than put family members and loved ones through this kind of uncertainty and confusion, people who are creating or significantly changing a will may want to consider working with an attorney to ensure the changes are made properly and explained thoroughly in order to avoid this type of dispute.

Source: Seacoast Online, “Top Stories 2013, No. 7: Officer’s inheritance case,” Elizabeth Dinan, Dec. 29, 2013

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