Q: My mom may be a vulnerable adult. In May of 2013 she had mild stroke. I found out that around that time my sister and brother bought her farm in Washington County by deed from her for 1000 dollars per month. The value of the land was once appraised at $237,000.00 dollars and is now paying $7,500.00 per month in gas rights, which I didn’t know until now. Does this sound right?
A: There is not enough information here to give you any reliable answer. I assume you are alleging that your mother was not competent enough at the time she deeded the farm to your siblings at such a low price. If so, if you can prove that your mother was incompetent when she sold, you may have a remedy in that you can go to court on a petition to rescind or nullify the deed. You would need a lawyer for this procedure. In order to prove your mother was incompetent at the time she signed the deed, you would need medical proof to back your claim up. This could be accomplished by an opinion of her doctor. I would pay a lawyer a retainer to look at this situation.
Q: What is the probability of winning a contest to a codocil signed 2 days prior to death of a terminally ill cancer patient who is heavily medicated? I was unaware that she was terminally ill and only found out from my Aunt Kathy (my mom’s sister) on Friday Sept. 27th. At that time my mother was being sent home from the hospital to die. I learned that she had liver cancer and a tumor in her lungs. She was given days to live. In May of 2013, my mom called me to let me know that she was working on her will and she needed some information from me. I thought nothing of this call as my husband’s parents and my stepmom and dad had also been making these arrangements. It seemed perfectly natural. She told me that Morgan (my daughter) and I were her primary beneficiaries and she told me that I would be the executor to her estate. I have a copy of my mother’s original will dated May 15th, 2013, that outlines pretty much exactly what I expected. You will also find a codicil dated September 27th, 2013 leaving her house, all contents of the house and car to Juanita Johnson. It also removes me as executor of her estate
A: This is a case that you really need to review all of the facts with an attorney. First the attorney can look at the Codicil to see if it is legally binding. Codicils are still permitted but must be executed with the same formality as a will-at least signed at the end by the testator. With the invention of word processors, hardly anyone, especially attorneys, draft Codicils anymore, which leads me to question who drafted it, and it’s legality. The attorney can also help you and advise you on how to gather information as to your mother’s state of mind at the time she executed this document. This can come from her doctor, hospital staff or other witnesses.
Q: My mother died 7/24/13 in PA and she and my dad have had the same wills for the past 25-30 years dividing property equally between my brother and me. My dad went to Anchorage to live with my brother after my mom’s funeral service and I asked for a copy of their will. My brother is an attorney and works for the AG office and said it was just changed 11/1/13. It leaves everything to him. My dad is 84 and on 10/4/13 went unconscious with insufficient blood supply to his brain. He recovered but is not in good mental capacity. I would not have known anything about the change of will had I not asked. I think there is deceit and undue influence. I have numerous people who would verify what my mom’s wishes were because she spoke about it a lot before her death. My mom and dad’s other will was from PA where they lived and where all the property is. We are talking about a substantial amount of property. I don’t have the money to fight him and wonder what can be done if anything.
A: You need to confirm whether mom and dad had typical husband and wife wills in which each inherits from the other. If that is the case, your dad inherited from your mother. The issue is whether your father had competency to make the will that your brother speaks of. If you wish to have the will challenged, you probably need a doctor to opine that at the time it was signed by dad he was incompetent. For example, he was on medication at the time, did he suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, etc. In PA, you would need that to prove he was incompetent at the time. Proving undue influence would require witnesses to say your brother misled, bullied, coerced, or manipulated your dad into signing. Unless you have credible witnesses to support these allegations, it would be difficult. Unfortunately, you need to hire a lawyer in Alaska. He could contact your brother, ask for a copy of the will, and try to see if he can get an opinion from your dad’s doctor as to your dad’s competency when he entered the will. This is a tough battle. If there is a large amount of money at stake, an attorney may be able to forego a retainer if he believes there is a case.