Can an individual leave a future settlement from wrongful death to an unrelated person?

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Can an individual leave a future settlement from wrongful death to an unrelated person?

My father had initiated a mesoltheleoma suit before his death. On his deathbed a lawyer was brought in by mother to change or make a Will. He was delusional at the time from alcohol withdrawal and not in any capacity to sign such papers (documented hospital records). I was not asked to attend the reading of the Will. My concern is that she has received $400,000from these settlements. I recently received such paperwork from her attorney again allowing her to receive 90% and myself 10%. My main question is that they were not married. Can he give her power of attorney and can she decide %’s.

Asked on August 9, 2010 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Sign NOTHING and get an attorney as soon as you can.  Here are the issues that you need to discuss:

1.  If the Will was made while your Father lacked what is known as "testamentary capacity" to execute such a document. From what you have indicated he was not.  You should have the attorney serve a subpoena on the hospital for the necessary records.

2.  If there is not a valid Will, ask him or her about the "Intestacy" statutes in New York, which would govern the distribution of his estate in that case.  If they were not married then his heirs would be his children. 

3.  If the Will has been admitted to probate, or is about to be from what I can gleam about the paperwork you are being served with, you will have to initiate a Will contest.  It will cost you out of pocket so be sure to discuss the matter with the attorney.  The Executor or the Will will be defended with the funds of the estate.  Be aware of that.  

4.  A Power of Attorney dies with a person. 

Good luck and get moving.


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