Legal dispute over man’s fortune centers around handwritten will

by | May 17, 2018 | Probate Litigation |

For New Yorkers who are concerned about a will and its validity, a court battle might be necessary to settle the matter. This is especially true when there are significant assets at stake. With property and a valuable portfolio, it is vital that there be a valid will created so it is clear who the desired heirs are. When this is not done, it can be the foundation for a contentious dispute. When in this situation, it is key for all sides to have a law firm that is experienced in all areas of estate litigation.

A New York man left a vast estate to workers in the building he lived in. The man was not married and did not have children. He handwrote his will saying that he wanted to leave his estate – valued at $4.2 million – to workers who helped care for him as he aged and became ill. The man’s nephew is contesting the will. Months before the man died, he had given the superintendent of the building a note giving the apartment to the doorman. Stock and bank accounts were left to other staff members of the co-op building.

The nephew soon began protesting. As the only blood relative of the man, he claims that the handwritten will is invalid because no witnesses were present when it was signed. According to workers in the building, they had only seen the nephew try to visit his uncle once – 33 years before the man’s death – and the uncle refused to see him. The workers say they provided care to the man as his health deteriorated and his apartment came into disrepair. As the court case has moved forward, the judge determined that the handwritten will is invalid, but a search is underway to see if there is a valid will somewhere.

A legal dispute over a will or other estate planning documents can come about for many reasons. Of course, it is preferable for the testator to have a valid will to ensure that the assets go where they want them to. However, that does not always happen. Family members could be justified in contesting a will that might have been created under duress or while the person was not of sound mind. It is also possible that the person wanted to leave the estate to someone other than those who believe they are the rightful recipients of it. A legal professional who is experienced in these issues can help with a case regarding wills and other estate planning problems.

Source:, “Millionaire leaves fortune to building workers — but nephew is after the money,” Julia Marsh, Alex Taylor, Ruth Brown, May 8, 2018