Alan Settles Will Contest With Aknowledgement That Later Will Is Invalid
On May 4, 2012, Alan secured a settlement of a will contest for a client on terms highly favorable to the client.
The client’s brother had executed a will in 2002, at which time the client and his brother owned a two-family house in an affluent suburb of Boston. The 2002 will left the brother’s half-interest in the house to Alan’s client.
In 2010, the brother, who during the prior week had undergone surgery for a brain tumor, amended his will to leave his share of the two-family house to his wife (for which this was a second marriage). Alan’s client contended that this change was invalid based on the wife’s undue influence and the brother’s lack of mental capacity.
The key event in the case was a deposition that Alan took of the attorney who prepared the 2010 will. He acknowledged that the wife dictated the terms of the will and coordinated the presence of the witnesses for the signing of the will. The attorney admitted that he never spoke with the brother about the will until the day he signed it, and further acknowledged that they had no opportunity to discuss his intentions privately while at his home for the will signing. The attorney also produced a memorandum from the brother’s wife stating that while she had no interest in the two-family house, she did not want Alan’s client to receive it in the amended will. The attorney acknowledged that he relied upon this memorandum in preparing the will.
Under the settlement, the 2010 will was declared invalid and the wife agreed to waive her statutory spousal share of the estate (which she would be entitled to receive even if the case were tried and the will declared invalid) in exchange for a modest cash payment. As a result, Alan’s client will receive his brother’s interest in the house and will now own it outright.