If a Will was changed just prior to someone being being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, is that grounds for challenging it?

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If a Will was changed just prior to someone being being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, is that grounds for challenging it?

My Grandfather passed away last week and left behind a sizable estate. My mother and uncle were beneficiaries to his estate before my mother passed away in 06/06. I recently found out that at some point after my mother’s death, the Will was changed so that only my uncle was to inherit his entire estate. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2007 and moved to a nursing home later that year. So I am assuming that it was done prior to the diagnosis. My uncle was given Power of Attorney over my grandfather. He and had control of my grandfather’s affairs up until he passed away in 06/09. At that time my cousin began handling my grandfather’s affairs until my grandfather’s passing last week. He will also be the executor of his estate. It has always been known by everyone in the family that my grandfather wanted his estate to be divided equally between my mother and my uncle. I am assuming the Will was changed in good faith and my uncle, had he survived, would have distributed the money fairly to include my sister and I. It now appears however that my cousin is the lone heir of my grandfather’s estate. Do we have any grounds to challenge the Will? I suppose it is possible that my grandfather was not of sound mind at the time of the Will being changed. Also, my cousin who will be the executor of his estate is a convicted felon (embezzlement in 1986). Does this have any bearing? I am aware that life is not fair, and no one is entitled to anything, but it seems that my sister and I are being left out just based on my mother passing away before my uncle. I am just wondering if we have any options.

Asked on February 2, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have resulted.  I think that you should speak with an attorney in your area on the matter as soon as you possibly can.  I do think that you may have the basis for a challenge to the changes in the Will but realize that it could get costly and is so fact specific that no one in this type of forum can let you know for sure.  If your Grandfather's Will was changed close in time to his diagnosis of Alzheimer's it will be your position that he was not of sound mind to execute the new Will.  Also, I am curious how your Uncle was appointed as Power of Attorney as well if your Grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's AND how your cousin could possibly handling the estate, since there is no doubt that your Grandfather could not execute a new POA in June of 2009.  Your cousin's status has no effect on the status but could on the handling of the estate.  Good luck to you.


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