Family fights over an estate after someone dies is not uncommon, says nj.com’s recent article entitled “I’m leaving my estate to my caregiver. Can my family fight it?” In some cases, the individual being cared for ends up trusting their caregiver more than their own family members. The lack of attention or caring by family or obvious greed could make that individual convey authority to the caregiver that normally would have been given to a family member(s). According to Beck & Lenox Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC, the individual may choose the caregiver as a sole beneficiary of the estate. “Can my family fight the gift of my estate to Caregiver?”
A family member could contest a power of attorney, a will, or a living will on the grounds that the principal (the person who appointed an attorney-in-fact or agent) was mentally incapacitated when the document was signed.
A family member could also contest a power of attorney on the grounds that the agent abused his or her authority.
Lastly, a will, a power of attorney and living will can be challenged on the grounds that the documents were not executed properly.
A power of attorney gives one or more persons the authority to act on your behalf as your agent or agent in fact or attorney in fact.
The power may be limited to a particular activity, like closing the sale of your home. It may also be general in its application.
The principal may give temporary or permanent authority to act on his or her behalf.
All 50 states allow you to express your wishes as to medical treatment in terminal illness or injury situations, and to designate an individual to communicate for you, if you cannot communicate for yourself.
Depending on the state, these documents are known as “living wills,” “power of attorney for healthcare”, “medical directives,” “health care proxies,” or “advance health care directives.”
Reasons for contesting an estate planning document include the fact that the document may not have been witnessed by the number of witnesses required by state law or notarized, if state law requires notarization.
You should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to try to limit the success of any challenges.
Estate planning is a process involving legal counsel familiar with your goals and concerns, your assets and how they are owned, along with your family structure.
Estate planning covers the transfer of property at death, as well as a variety of other personal matters and may involve planning for taxes, business succession and legacy planning. “Can my family fight the gift of my estate to Caregiver?” Beck & Lenox partner, Jayson Lenox, frequently quotes a judge he knows who says, “Where there’s a will, there are relatives!” In the case above, if the mental capacity to create the estate plan is there, the will may point to the caregiver instead.
Reference: nj.com (May 7, 2021) “I’m leaving my estate to my caregiver. Can my family fight it?”