In a case handled by Lipson Neilson attorney Steve Malach, a deceased husband was survived by his wife and their three adult children. The deceased husband’s widow became the beneficiary of the husband’s portfolio that included more than 40 bank accounts, investments, and beneficiary assignments. The widowed mother then revised accounts, without a written estate plan, to provide an equal distribution of all the assets among the three children.
Unbeknownst to two of the children, through years of brainwashing and undue influence the eldest son was able to get the mother to change her accounts and beneficiaries to provide him with a disproportionate distribution of assets. This was not discovered until the mother became extremely sick and a court ordered the records to be disclosed. Included in these records were notes from a nursing home’s staff that detailed the eldest son’s violating a court order and continuing his campaign of greed.
After several years of litigation, culminating with a nine-hour mediation, Steve Malach successfully settled this case with an equal distribution of assets among all three children; just like the mother wanted.
This case illustrates the importance of having solid plans in place. When the time comes, the goal is to provide a seamless transition of property and other assets to your heirs and to spare them the lengthy, inconvenient, and costly process of probate. To achieve this, you must have solid plans in place that are routinely updated to comply with current laws and regulations.
An attorney for more than 40 years, Steve Malach heads Lipson Neilson’s estate planning practice group and is the founder of the Center for Estate Planning (CEP). With offices in Michigan and Arizona, CEP is a highly specialized team of attorneys that have practiced, taught, published, and are recognized leaders in the fields of Probate and Trust law. One of the best talent pools in the country, CEP attorneys have also had notable successes in complex probate litigation and mediation.