Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Attorneys' Fees Available When Executor or Trustee Engages in Undue Influence

Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Attorneys' Fees Available When Executor or Trustee Engages in Undue Influence

Article excerpt

In New Jersey, a wealthy unmarried woman placed her assets in three trusts. She named as beneficiaries a foundation and her brother, who was two years younger than his sister. A long-time friend was named as trustee. However, the woman, who had dementia and other medical problems, subsequently replaced the trustee with the son of her brother's recent much younger bride. The son was also named executor of the woman's will. The trusts and the will were then modified to confer substantial benefits on the sister-in-law, her son, and her son's children. The sister-in-law and her son also used the woman's assets to buy luxury items. The former trustee and the foundation filed suit claiming that the sister-in-law and her son had unduly influenced the woman to change her will and trusts.

The trial court removed the son as trustee, finding that he had embezzled and misused assets and exercised undue influence. In addition, the trusts and will modifications were annulled and the former trustee was reinstated. …

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