Some readers in California may be surprised to learn that when an estate owner dies, things don’t always run smoothly between surviving family members. In fact, some situations are downright contentious and others even involve possible criminal behavior. This seems to have been the case for an elderly widow in another state whose son and daughter-in-law claimed to have her best interests at heart, but were actually proved otherwise. Thanks to the woman’s husband’s careful estate planning while he was alive, the matter was able to be resolved.
The 83-year-old woman had been married to her husband for 40 years. At some point following his death, she entered a nursing home to live. The woman’s son is her power of attorney and he and his wife reportedly convinced everyone she was no longer able to care for herself or make financial decisions.
The woman and her now deceased husband had built up an estate worth more than $2 million. Her son and daughter-in-law schemed to strip her of all her assets. Authorities say the plan almost worked, except for a loophole the two overlooked.
The woman’s husband had used thorough estate planning to specify his widow as sole beneficiary of all his properties and assets. The son and his wife were found guilty of criminal contempt of court and have been ordered to repay all the real estate and money they took from the widow. Taking time to craft a thorough estate plan while one is of sound mind may protect the future financial stability of loved ones and help avoid family squabbles over inheritances. A probate and estate administration attorney can address any questions a California resident might have regarding such matters.
Source: wealthmanagement.com, “Estate Plan Protects Widow From Son’s Breach of Fiduciary Duty“, Robert J. O’Regan, Nov. 15, 2016