Monday, November 3, 2008

Case of Undue Influence

We recently went to trial on a matter involving five siblings. My firm represented three of them, one remained neutral and the other ("Monica") was our opponent.

Following the passing of their Mother, Monica produced a will, trust and quitclaim deed showing that she was the sole owner of Mother's house. Those documents were challenged by my clients on the basis of undue influence.

To be successful, we had to prove that Monica procured the 1995 Will through acts of undue influence. The document was executed 13 years prior to the hearing. In most cases, the delay would have presented an obstacle at trial because memories tend to fade over time. But not in this case. My clients saw this coming from the day Monica moved into Mother's house (in 1992).

So what did they do to protect their inheritance? They kept journals. Each of them kept separate journals and made entries every time they suspected something was not right between themselves and their Mother, Monica and their Mother and between themselves and Monica. It was their individual factually specific journal entries that helped prove the undue influence and invalidate the 1995 Will.

When someone asks how they can protect their inheritance in the least intrusive manner, I often tell them to purchase a personal journal from a stationary story and make very specific and detailed entries regarding any unusual behavior involving their parents (or benefactor) and any other person--especially if it involves money.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what is happening with my Grandmother. She has lived with my aunt for 7 years now. My Aunt has all of a sudden become sole owner of my Grandmother's checking acccount. Checks have been written left and right. One to the Dollar General for 168.00. Granny has not been able to get out of bed for years now, doubt if she has been shopping. Just an example. My Mother and other aunt are on the savings account along with the first aunt. When they happened upon some cancelled checks that did not make since, red flags started appearing. Money was being transferred from savings to checking for no apparent reason. My Grandmother gets over 1500.00 a month from social security. Her monthly bills don't even come close to that amount. so where is the rest of the money. When my Mother and other Aunt discovered this, my Mother removed the majority of the savings account to a new account with only her and the good aunt on it. My question is, has she done anything illegal and can this be taken to criminal or civil court for her removing the money to protect my Grandmother's iterest?

Anonymous said...

I had a sibling do this as well, steal every dime. She lived with my Dad after my Mom passed, telling him she would "take care of telling the Bank Mom had passed away, and all those details you don't need to burdened with at a time like this."
Well, to shorten a long and horror-filled story, she manipluated and changed his Will, after making the original yet-to-be-signed and recorded one disappear, and rewriting a new one, and in the presence of her criminal friends all posing as "church people" she drugged him, then filmed him, a man with macular degeneration, signing a Will with dubbed in voice over making it seem like he knew what he was signing, when in reality, she told him she had "found" the Will that had been "misplaced" She kept family away, made sure he died at home with only her and her thieving adult daughter present. She ended up with everything my mother said she did not want her to have, the home, all the money, all the jewelry, stock, and cut out all the kids who had been decent in the family. This sibling is named Linda and she knows who she is! A drug-addict/alcoholic with a criminal history she has been able to hide by obtaining a different birth certificate/social security number, as she is wanted in VA. No one would listen and no one would help us, and after a fortune in legal bills, the siblings decided to just let it go. My mother is rolling in her grave, I am sure,every time this slut wears jewelry intended for others, spends money she has no right to...

Anonymous said...

We just got done with court over my Uncle's will. He left everything to his nieces and nephew. The attorney who wrote the doc put an s on nephew and that started the relatives coming out of the woodwork claiming in round about ways that they were nieces and nephews as well. GET this the JUDGE Riemer is his name believed them hook line and sinker and gave them our inheritance! He totally believed all their lies and fabrications and he said the only reason we got anything is because legally by birth right we are the real two nieces and nephew. So now we don't know what to do about this. They sued/lied and won! I know we can appeal but not sure how to go about this.maybe we did not have the right kind of attorney in the first place. He is a sweet heart though and very honest. They were not honest and neither was their attorney. If you have any ideas I would like to hear them before this case gets any further.

Anonymous said...

I never received 1 penny!!! I'm sorry for your troubles too!