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Concerns related to will changes can be addressed before or after death

Via numerous estate planning documents, individuals are able to dictate to whom assets and belongings will pass upon their death. A last will and testament is the foundation of any estate plan and provides the opportunity for an individual to express their wishes and provide details related to their decisions. There are times, however, when the validity of a will may be called into question.

Those who are lucky, live well into their golden years. As individuals age, many experience a range of physical and mental decline. Sadly, individuals who may be experiencing signs and symptoms of declining mental capacity may become the target of unscrupulous individuals who seek to profit from a loved one’s death.

Take for example a scenario in which suspicious changes were made to an elderly woman’s will. The woman's previous will provided instructions that, upon her death, assets were to be equally distributed amongst her children. Recently, however, the children learned that their mother changed her will to name a paid caretaker as the benefactor of her largest account.

Contending their mother suffers from dementia, the children suspect the caretaker used undue influence to coerce their mother into changing her will. In this case, the mother is still alive and it's possible therefore for the children to sit down with her and her attorney to discuss the matter. If she passes before such a meeting can take place, upon her death, the children can contest the will. They would, however, need to prove that their mother "lacked legal capacity" when the change was made.

New York residents, who have similar concerns about a loved one's capacity with regard to changes made to estate planning documents, may choose to seek legal advice. An attorney who handles estate and probate litigation matters can help determine whether evidence exists to warrant moving forward with a lawsuit.

Source: Express-News, "Paid Caretaker should not be receiving inheritance," Paul Premack, March 3, 2014

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