Perelman-Cohen estate litigation turns burden of proof to son

by | Jan 4, 2014 | Probate Litigation |

When a loved one dies, it is time for families to pull together and grieve for their loss. Unfortunately, when wealth is involved, that often doesn’t happen. Relatives are worried they may be cheated out of their inheritance and instead of the loss bringing them together, it separates them. That is why it is important to have a will and final testament correctly drawn up, and if possible, share the expectations with relatives before your death. There are good New York attorneys in the Rochester area that specialize in estate planning.

Millionaire Robert Cohen, Hudson News patriarch, probably thought his estate planning was sufficient when he gave the largest portion of his fortune to his only son. However, his granddaughter from his only daughter, claims her uncle influenced and manipulated his father into modifying his wills to benefit himself, leaving her with a small inheritance.

The case has been in probate litigation since the millionaire’s death last year when he was 86. His son had worked with him in the business for decades. The son’s attorneys claim that Cohen always intended to transfer his business to his son. His daughter died of cancer in 2007 and was apparently not a part of the business.

The granddaughter’s father, who was executor of her mother’s estate, was the instigator, and sued the Cohens with claims that his wife did not receive her portion of the inheritance. His daughter then joined him in the fight. She is claiming she is being cheated out of her inheritance as well.

The granddaughter who is fighting for her inheritance only had to prove to the court that her uncle had a confidential relationship with her grandfather and then the burden would shift to the defendant to prove that he did not unduly influence his father to change his will. Her attorneys have been able to prove the confidential relationship, and now it is up to the son’s attorneys to prove no undue influence took place.

Robert Cohen had a neurological debilitating disease before his death, but his son’s attorneys claim he was very capable of communicating. The granddaughter claims that her uncle manipulated him to modify his estate plans to benefit him in the amount of $600 million. The son’s attorneys will need to provide a defense now to prove no undue influence took place.

Source: The Record, “Setback for defense in Perelman-Cohen estate battle” Kibret Markos, Dec. 24, 2013