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Estate wins long battle and may now give $2.2M to charities

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2019 | Firm News

A longstanding dispute over a widow’s estate held up the distribution of millions of dollars and prevented intended cash gifts from going to Illinois charities. As reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, the jury found that a neurosurgeon defrauded the deceased wealthy widow and ordered that $2.2 million belonged to her estate and can be distributed as intended.

When a neurosurgeon befriended his wealthy elderly neighbor, she allegedly offered to leave him a portion of her estate if he agreed to change his two sons’ middle names to reflect her last name. While it may have appeared to be a legitimate offer, the elderly widow reportedly was disabled due to possible Alzheimer’s and moderate dementia. The neurosurgeon, however, went so far as to purchase a property in Arkansas so that he and the widow could move there. This was purportedly a fraudulent effort on his part to persuade the widow to legally adopt him as her son in Arkansas, a state that allows for adult adoptions.

The wealthy widow passed away at the age of 101 during the year 2013. Before her death, however, the neurosurgeon filed a legal action to claim his share of the widow’s estate as she purportedly promised him. He presented a document allegedly signed by the widow stating that if he changed his two sons’ middle names, she would leave him a portion of her estate valued at $5.5 million. This included $4 million in cash, an apartment and some personal contents that were worth $1.5 million. The neurosurgeon’s lawsuit slowly worked its way through the court system, but the jury ultimately held in favor for the widow’s estate.

For an individual to enter into a legally binding agreement, he or she must demonstrate mental competency or possess a sound mind. Some individuals may be required to undergo a capacity test when making decisions that involve estate planning, or they may be required to create a power of attorney when unable to do so.