Our readers who live in Minnesota have probably noticed that the stories on this blog about probate disputes oftentimes paint a picture of people disagreeing over the minutiae of a large estate. The legal and factual details of such stories can be quite complicated.
However, will conflicts do not always boil down to a case of who said what, as one case from another state illustrates. Sometimes, a probate dispute is the only way to stop a person from literally stealing the proceeds of an estate from rightful heirs.
A woman who was the foster daughter of a lady who died in 2010 is still trying to claim a portion of an inheritance that she believes she was left through her foster mother's will. However, the final copy of the will that was probated in court did not have her name in it. Moreover, she was listed in court records as having an unspecified address, even though she had lived at the same home for multiple decades.
This woman is not the first to accuse the executor of the estate, who is a niece of the deceased, of engaging in shady dealing. Another person has suggested that the executor has created false financial documents and has also tried to access proceeds from the deceased woman's life insurance policies.
As this case illustrates, a will contest does not always involve a particularly wealthy family and is not always a complicated matter of undue influence or a technical misappropriation. Sometimes, probate litigation is an innocent party's best defense against outright fraud and theft. Those who feel that they are being taken advantage of in a probate matter should consider contacting an experienced probate litigation attorney.
Source: KENS 5, "Probate problems: S.A. woman named in will denied her fair share," Dillon Collier, April 24, 2014