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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Elderly woman's estate subject of will contest

There are many senior citizens in Minnesota who have a great deal of wealth but do not have a lot of family members or loved they could leave an inheritance to. While this situation may present a great opportunity for that person to leave their fortune to charities of their choice, it also presents an occasion for unscrupulous people to take advantage of an elderly person and funnel that person's wealth to himself or herself.

In Minnesota, when a beneficiary or former beneficiary under a will believes that a person has been duped into giving his or her wealth to another person, then that beneficiary could initiate a will contest. A will contest is not simply about a beneficiary getting a portion of a deceased person's wealth; it is also about protecting the wishes of the deceased against people who would seek to undermine those wishes.

A case from another state illustrates this point. At least two charitable organizations and at least one family member filed probate litigation after an elderly woman changed her will back in 2012 in order to leave the majority of her $2.7 million fortune to a police officer. The charities and the family member, who is disabled, were to receive substantial bequests under a prior will that the 2012 document superseded.

The plaintiffs contend that the officer exerted undue influence over the woman, even going so far as to shop around for attorneys until he found one willing to change the woman's will for her. Interestingly enough, another issue in the case is that this attorney has claimed an "extraordinary" amount of fees.

If an organization or person feels that a third party has unlawfully interfered with a loved one's final wishes, he or she may wish to speak with an experienced probate litigation attorney. This will help them better understand the situation and provide them with options to address any probate issues.

Source: Seacoastonline.com, "Assets detailed in disputed $2.7 million will," Elizabeth Dinan, July 6, 2014

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