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Senator’s sons and widow square off over validity of his will

Miami residents are encouraged to begin their estate planning early on in their adult lives, and to involve those who may be beneficiaries of their estates in the process, as well. This attempt at transparency may hopefully help to avoid having disputes arise once one is gone. However, as family dynamics change over time, so too can one’s estate plans, much to the chagrin of those who may be negatively impacted by such changes. In such cases, no amount of planning may be able to avoid the legal battles that may arise if and when disillusioned beneficiaries try to claim what they may believe to be theirs.

The sons of a former U.S. Senator from Tennessee are currently involved in a bitter dispute with their father’s widow, claiming that she exercised undue influence over him in order to amend his will shortly before his death in late 2015. His final will named her as the primary beneficiary, with his two sons each receiving $50,000. However, the sons claim that they have evidence from the law firm that handled their father’s will stating the man did not have the needed mental capacity to comprehend the changes made to his will. They are now requesting access to the documentation detailing their father’s estate planning process as well as verification of his assets.

It may be easy to dismiss those who challenge the validity of a will as simply being bitter. However, if one truly believes his or her loved one was wrongly influenced to modify existing estate plans, he or she may feel justified in opposing those changes. At the same time, those who believe them to be valid may equally as strong in their resolve. Challenging or defending estate planning documents may require the added assistance of an experienced attorney.

Source: The Tennessean “Documents: No settlement in Fred Thompson estate dispute” Barchenger, Stacey, Jan. 23, 2017

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