Stephen A. Martin, Attorney at Law
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Lawsuit claims caretaker influenced woman to change will

Being transparent in one’s estate planning is encouraged by experts in Saint Charles in order to avoid the potential of disputes arising amongst beneficiaries after one is gone. The reasoning behind this advice is that if beneficiaries know what may be coming to them from one’s estate, they may be less likely to question the validity of the instruments governing it. Yet this can also be a double-edged sword in that if a potential beneficiary believes that they it has been indicated that they will have a specific interest in an estate, they may cry foul if and when that does not turn out to be the case. 

Such is the claim being made by a museum in Oregon. Its representatives say that a wealthy local patron had promised that the museum would be named a remainder beneficiary of her estate (meaning that it would receive whatever was left over after assets and properties had been distributed to other beneficiaries). This had museum personnel believing that it would receive the woman’s extensive art collection, as well as millions of dollars. Yet six months after making this promise, the woman amended her will, leaving her estate in its entirety to her longtime caretaker. The museum filed a lawsuit saying that the caretaker had exercised undue influence in getting the woman to change her will. The jury hearing the case agreed, awarding the museum a multi-million dollar settlement. 

Some might think that disputes arising over a party’s interest in an estate are simply sour grapes over one not getting what they think they are entitled to. Yet when evidence exists that someone manipulated a person into leaving them their money and property, action may be warranted. Those seeking it may first want to secure the services of an experienced attorney. 

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