Probate Litigation Attorneys
Challenges to Asset Transfers / Beneficiary Designation and Misuse of Powers of Attorney
- Represented executor of the estate of a decedent who had retirement assets in excess of $140,000 that would have been distributed to the estate and ultimately the beneficiaries under the will of the decedent but for a change of beneficiary executed while the decedent was in the hospital. Upon research, it was determined that the change of beneficiary form was executed by the paid caregiver of the decedent acting as power of attorney. The caregiver had taken the decedent, prior to death, to her own attorney, bypassing the decedent's attorney, and her attorney prepared a power of attorney naming the caregiver as the attorney-in-fact. The power of attorney did not contain the power to gift. Nonetheless, the caretaker executed a change of beneficiary form as power of attorney naming herself as the beneficiary on death of the retirement assets. We successfully recovered on behalf of the estate more than 90% of the assets improperly transferred.
- Represented daughter in action against her brother to set aside transfers of real estate made by mother. Mother was beginning the early stages of dementia/Alzheimer's and became angry with her daughter. The mother spoke English as a second language and relied heavily upon her son to care for her. The mother executed two deeds to real estate of which the daughter would receive one parcel of real estate but for the execution of the deed. The deeds to real estate were executed in favor of son but the attorney was instructed not to deliver the real estate or record the deed. Shortly before the mother passed away, the son instructed the attorney to record the deeds. During discovery, it was learned that son had forged his mother's name to substantial asset transfers and checks and cash withdrawals. On the grounds of undue influence and failure of delivery, daughter received a fair share of the estate, including the parcel of real estate she would have received but for her brother's conduct.
- Defended ex-husband in action brought by the executrix and beneficiary under the will of the decedent in an action to set aside multiple asset transfers and beneficiary designations occurring after ex-wife was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. In the three-month period following the diagnosis of terminal cancer, the decedent named her ex-husband as the beneficiary of her life insurance policy, named her ex-husband as joint tenant with rights of survivorship of multiple bank accounts with combined assets approximating $500,000. The executrix argued that the ex-husband has unduly influenced the decedent into executing the documents and also breached fiduciary duties owed to the decedent. Following trial, Court entered order in favor of our client, the ex-husband.
- Decedent died leaving multiple trusts, each trust modifying beneficiaries and percentage of distribution entitlements. Prior to decedent's death, decedent executed a deed transferring his home to himself as trustee. Decedent failed to identify the particular trust to which the real estate was to be distributed. We were appointed administrator of the decedent's estate and brought suit against the various trustees of the multiple trusts and through resolution successfully resolved the ownership issues of the real estate.
- Represented executor of estate in action against the brother of the decedent seeking to recover assets transferred by the decedent into a joint account with rights of survivorship prior to the decedent's death. After trial, court determined that decedent had been incompetent and unduly influenced into entering into the transactions complained of and issued an order requiring the assets to be returned to the estate of decedent.
- Represented sister in action to set aside various transfers of assets manipulated by brother with regard to mother's estate. Brother was a lawyer and had handled mother's finances for many years following the mother's diagnosis of dementia. The brother obtained rubber stamps bearing the signature of mother and used the stamps to transfer multiple CDs valued at $100,000 each into his own name and the name of his son. Matter resolved in favor of client.
- Represented executor of estate against regional bank. Decedent allegedly transferred assets by way of survivor designation to a charitable organization. The bank could not produce the signature card or contract of survivor account. Action resulted in 100% of the assets being distributed to the estate.
- During his lifetime, our client and his brother owned two pieces of real estate worth a substantial sum of money. Our client's brother died first. At the brother's death, the two pieces of real estate transferred to a Trust for the benefit of the deceased brother's wife and upon the wife's death, went to the lawyer who drafted the Trust to distribute for charitable purposes of the lawyer's choice. Surprised by this arrangement, an examination of the deeds of transfer evidenced that impropriety and/or fraud had taken place in the execution of the deeds. We filed a Declaratory Judgment lawsuit for our client in Probate Court to set aside the deeds and remove the drafting lawyer as Trustee. We obtained a settlement of the case that resulted in removal of the lawyer as Trustee, a substantial portion of the real estate being returned to the our client, and the remainder of the real estate being transferred to a new Trust written for the benefit of the deceased brother's wife with the remainder of the Trust benefiting the brother's wife's family.