A disturbing case is underway set in Arizona, where a group of siblings are having a court battle over their mother’s estate… while she’s still alive!
Family members fighting over inheritance is a sad situation, but not unusual. In fact, it probably happens more often than you think; which is why our firm works hard to lessen the chances that this happens with our clients. But these fights usually take place after the parent has passed away and the details and distribution of the estate become known. But when Robert Jaeger of Arizona found out that his mother took him out of her will, he decided he couldn’t wait until she passed away to take legal action. He filed a lawsuit against his siblings, claiming that they exerted undue influence over their mother to remove him from her Will. His siblings are preparing to defend their mother’s change of heart in court. It is presently unclear whether siblings may sue each other in this context, and this case may set a precedent.
While the idea of siblings fighting over a parent’s assets while the parent is still living is a disturbing one, the truly disturbing part of all this is what it might mean for the rights of senior citizens. According Dennis Wagner, writer for The Arizona Republic, “Legal experts and advocates for the elderly say the case could further erode the rights of older Americans, who face increasing challenges to their independence.” Our own firm’s view is that the elderly should retain their rights and their autonomy so long as they are competent and able to manage their own affairs. When we prepare an estate plan, we do so with this view in mind.