When a loved one dies, it is difficult. When that loved one leaves behind a recently re-drafted will that gives her caretakers the bulk of their estate instead of her family, the death can be harder still. For people with loved ones who made unexpected decisions they would not have made when they were of sound mind, probate litigation to challenge the will may be the right decision.
That is exactly the case for the family of one New York woman we wrote about earlier this year on this blog. The woman, a copper heiress, gave her nurse nearly $28 million in gifts, including a $1.2 million Stradivarius violin and five homes, including three in Manhattan. In addition, the woman gave her night nurse money to cover her children's tuition and to help purchase two homes. The woman's doctor's family received more than $3 million in presents.
However, the court-appointed official overseeing the woman's estate, known as an administrator, has stepped in. The administrator, who believes that the recipients manipulated the woman, has asked for all of the gifts to be returned. In all, the administrator is seeking to reclaim about $37 million.
The administrator has highlighted that for the 25 years preceding her recent hospitalization, the woman had given less than $40,000 per year in gifts on average. But that number shot up after her hospitalization.
Besides the gifts, a separate probate legal dispute is brewing over the woman's multiple wills. Her last will left most of her money to charity and $30 million to her nurse. However, weeks earlier she had signed a will that left most of her fortune to her 20 great-nieces and great-nephews. They are contesting the most recent will.
Source: The Kansas City Star, " Copper heiress' huge gifts spotlighted in NY court," Jennifer Peltz, June 16, 2012