Family and spouse in legal dispute over wealthy man’s estate

by | Apr 28, 2018 | Probate Litigation |

One of the most complex situations in New York regarding an estate plan is when there is a legal dispute. Often, these come about because the testator changed their will to change or remove heirs. For people who are considering a will contest for any reason, having legal assistance from a law firm experienced in estate litigation is key.

A man who amassed a $54 million estate selling ceramic Christmas items is the subject of a will dispute between his spouse and his sister. The testator died in November 2017. Ten months prior to his death, he had married his real estate broker who is 43 years his junior. According to the broker, the testator walked up to him in 2014 and asked him for a date. The family, however, says that the broker specifically pursued the testator due to his estate holdings and wealth. Not long after, the men moved in together.

According to the testator’s sister, the estate plan was subsequently changed, with assets moved from his foundation to the broker. At first, $500,000 was left to the broker. Then, it was doubled. Later, it included property, art and money. The amount that the broker can receive could rise as high as $32 million. The family says that the broker might have deprived the testator of his medication, taken funds and given them to his relatives, and been abusive. It is alleged that one month before he died, the testator signed papers to revoke the changes that had been made.

Wills can be complicated and there is a litany of reasons to move forward with challenging a will. Having a loved one who is aging and has a substantial estate often makes them vulnerable to people whose intentions are not aboveboard. In other instances, it is the family members who believe they are the rightful heirs to an estate and are trying to undo a valid will that left the estate to a spouse. When there is a disagreement over a will, having legal assistance is critical. Before taking the next steps to contest a will, it is imperative to call a lawyer as soon as possible.

Source:, “Sister, widow of Christmas figurines mogul fight over $54M estate,” Kathianne Boniello, April 21, 2018