Estate litigation pits two older sisters against youngest sister

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Probate Litigation |

When an estate plan is created in Rochester and throughout New York State, the goal is for the testator to detail what he or she wants and for the document to result in those desires coming to pass. However, if there are significant assets and would-be heirs who were not given what they believe to be their fair share, it can be the impetus for a court battle and extended legal dispute. It is unfortunate that this happens, but in many cases, there is a justifiable reason for the family members to take issue with how the estate was formulated and to move forward with estate litigation. Having legal assistance from a law firm that is experienced in these matters is crucial.

A woman who died at 98 in 2011 and had significant assets through the wealth of her late husband is the subject of a dispute over her estate plan. She had three daughters, but willed $1.5 million and a home to her youngest. The two older daughters were largely eliminated from the will. This has led to them filing a lawsuit against their younger sister. Amid the disagreements are assertions that the mother was coerced. The case has been in progress for a significant period and in November, it will head to the regional appellate court. The main issue is whether the mother was subject to undue influence by her youngest daughter or if she was competent.

Another problem is that the youngest daughter is in dispute with her lawyers and says it committed legal malpractice. The youngest daughter was her mother’s caregiver in her last years and was accused of taking money from her mother’s account. The mother and her husband – a doctor – were prominent in the community and generous with their time and money. The mother’s estate plan initially said that the estate would be placed in a trust and divided equally among her children. However, it was later changed. The mother’s family lawyer stated she was competent at the time the changes were made. The case is ongoing.

It is always unfortunate when there is estate litigation and the family members left behind after a loved one’s death are in dispute over the assets. Many factors go into a case in which there are allegations of wrongdoing and manipulation. While it is wise to have an estate plan that is suitable for the person’s needs, disagreements crop up in many cases. For those who are concerned about the validity of a will, trust or any other estate planning device, having legal assistance from a law firm that understands estate litigation can help.