Can an executor gain power of attorney from the widow of the deceased and change/not honor the terms of the Will?

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Can an executor gain power of attorney from the widow of the deceased and change/not honor the terms of the Will?

I had an uncle pass about a month ago. He named several family members in his Will to inherit land and money. He was 86 years old, had no children and his spouse is still living. He named a cousin of ours as the executor of the estate. The named executor got the Will from the lock box and only let 2 other people read it. He asked that neither of them mention the Will. However one of them made a copy of it and showed it to her brothers who are named in the Will. The executor and the other person that read the Will, the niece of the widow, talked the widow into granting them dual power of attorney. Now it looks like they have decided to not honor the wishes of my uncle and they keep the property and money. None of my family is interested in the money although it is a large amount,but the property was all homesteaded by my family and my passing uncle always wanted to keep it that way. The widow is not completely of sound mind. She is still very sharp but does slip from time to time. As far as we know she has no idea that her husband left a Will. It was not a joint Will. Do we as a family have a leg to stand on at all in fighting this?Should we speak with a probate law attorney? In Arkansas County. AR.

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, Arkansas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Yes, please go and seek legal help with all of this a soon as you can.  It is a little difficult to understand how your family tree goes here and it is important.  If there is no Will found then your uncle will be deemde to have died intestate and the intestacy statutes in the state would apply.  But your cousin was very smart to have made a copy of the Will.  It will be invaluable in all of this as proving that there is a Will in existence will be your main concern but not your only concern.   Now, what I am understanding here is that the named executor unduly influenced your Aunt to give him and a niece Power of Attorney for your Aunt, as she is the party set to inherit here - and the only party set to inherit here, correct?   You need to bring an action as against your cousin for many things here and the attorney will be able to help with that.  Good luck. 


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