Thursday, January 22, 2009

Son says "My Mother's a freakin' idiot who doesn't know what she's doing" (please don't disinherit me)

The Arizona Republic reported today a very troubling case of a 78-year-old Scottsdale woman who's children are engaging in a will contest and the woman is very much a live and competent.

One son is claiming that his brothers and sisters persuaded their mom to cut him out of the will and is suing for more than 1$ million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. The woman's only asset is a house and her estate is worth $130,000.

The woman is not a party to the law suit and blames her eldest son for the trouble.
"It's ridiculous and unnecessary and inexcusable. I'm not dead yet, and I don't plan on croaking soon. . . . I intend to give my family hell," she is quoted as saying.

This month, Judge Bethany Hicks rejected the sibling's arguments, denying a motion for dismissal. Though no similar case is on record in Arizona and the probate code is silent, Hicks found "that fact does not mean that the cause of action . . . was rejected by the Legislature." The parties have been told to prepare for trial.

Now the woman is forced to defend her right to give her estate to whomever she wants.

In Whalen v. Prosser,719 So.2d 2 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998), the court wrote:

“Interference with an expectancy is an unusual tort because the beneficiary is authorized to sue to recover damages primarily to protect the testator's interest rather than the disappointed beneficiary's expectations. The fraud, duress, undue influence, or other independent tortious conduct required for this tort is directed at the testator. The beneficiary is not directly defrauded or unduly influenced; the testator is. Thus, the common law court has created this cause of action not primarily to protect the beneficiary's inchoate rights, but to protect the deceased testator's former right to dispose of property freely and without improper interference. In a sense, the beneficiary's action is derivative of the testator's rights.”.

And this

“There is no guarantee that the testator's estate will contain any assets at the time of a future death. Thus, prior to death, the hope of an inheritance is not sufficiently concrete to create a property right. The disappointed beneficiary only obtains "vested" rights when the testator dies. See Brown v. Kirkham, 926 S.W.2d 197 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996). We are not inclined to believe that proposed beneficiaries in earlier estate plans, such as the Whalens, should be permitted to sue the new beneficiaries for mental pain and suffering, and possibly punitive damages, when the testator is alive, competent, and entitled to exercise her own testamentary rights.”

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