Relative C receives power of attorney over Relative A. Relative C wants to change the will. Relative A, on her good days, agrees. Their lawyer won't let this happen, claiming conflict of interest. What to do?
posted by anonymous to law & government (18 answers total)
This is for a a dear friend of mine who came to me, and I believe I have all the relevant details and facts. There's a lot of drama, but here's the situation:
1. Relative A and B have been married forever. They have a will that states the estate should be divided equally among two beneficiaries, relatives C and D (sons). At the time the estate is worth maybe $100,000.
2. Another relative leaves entire estate ($2mil) to relative A and B.
3. Relative B dies
4. Relative A cannot take care of herself. Relative C given power of attorney and is executor of the will. Relative A wants a larger percent to go to Relative C. Relative C cannot find an attorney to make the change.
Now, for the details. Relative C is normal, lives a middle class life and nearing retirement. Has a family, mortgage, everything else. Relative D, on the other hand, has a lot of problems. Relative D has never had a job, and has lived most his life homeless. It is of my opinion, from the stories told, that in addition to drug and alcohol problems relative D has some sort of severe mental health problem. Relative D had been kicked out of the family, effectively, for a long time. He was only heard of when him or a friend of his had a sob story about needing money for a variety of things. When relative B was alive he was never seen, money was never given (he was still in the will, for whatever reason, but at the time the money was not the amount it is now). Relative B dies and Relative D shows up to take advantage of Relative A. He has a long history of violence, theft, drug and alcohol offenses, you name it. Relative D breaks in at night and steals from Relative A. He is also abusive and beat up relative A. This went to court and relative A has a restraining order on him and there are charges of elderly abuse. He is out on parole and steals around $10,000 worth of jewelry from relative A. This is recovered and he is back in jail.
Meanwhile Relative C is having to deal with this drama, the court dates and taking care of relative B. This is missed work, stress and most certainly the cause of a minor heart attack that happened earlier in the year. He is also managing the large amount of money, and while he has a banker to do most of this, still is a lot of work. He used to manage relative A's medications, bills, etc.
Recently relative A was putting in a home after the elderly abuse incident. We come to learn that there is much more bullying via the phone and letters than Relative C realized. Relative A had been meaning to change the will since the death of Relative B. Relative C goes to two attorneys who both sympathize with him and tell him that they'd be trying to do the same thing, but that it is unethical to change the will.
I cannot believe this. I argue that at the very least, relative C should be getting compensation for taking care of relative A. I also fail to see how the long history of abuse, recorded abuse that went to court, fails to invalidate the will.
I realize that trusts and wills are complicated beasts, but C has gone to two lawyers that say there is a conflict of interest. My worry is that C is approaching this wrong. Even assuming the will cannot be changed, wouldn't C be able to receive compensation for taking care of A? C is not afraid to go to court, but does not want to run afoul of the law. He does not want to do anything illegal, but still feels that if A wants the will changed it should be changed. It seems silly that once he received power of attorney due to her dementia, the will could never be changed.
So what to do? My feeling is that shopping around for more lawyers might be dangerous as a less than reputable attorney might see the large dollar signs. Should he be leaving the will alone and approaching this from the perspective that he should be paid for all the work he is doing? I am sure there are probably important legalese lacking here, but I'm conveying the facts of the story as best I can. Trying to leave out all the emotion and drama regarding the deadbeat. I would be more apt to believe this is just family drama, were it not for the well-recorded, long rapsheet on this guy. From what it sounds like he is totally unaware of how much money is actually involved and still thinks he is getting around $50,000. In a perfect world, C would be more than happy with giving him that much and be done with it.