Wills and the law

Here's a situation:


Father is 65 with advanced Cerebral Palsy, seizure disorder, high blood pressure and prostate cancer.


Father has significant wealth: $575,000 home in Canada, $700,000 in gold kept in the US and $1.3 million in .stocks


Father's mother and brother live in California and are completely volatile towards any of Father's immediate family. Father's Brother is a doctor and is therefore highly respected in the community. Everybody believes everything Brother says. Mother is 85 yrs old and in better health now than she was at the age of 20. She has an undiagnosed mental illness and is a major source of the volatility. She sues everybody for any reason - including her daughter. Brother follows and does whatever Mother thinks, says and feels.

Mother and Brother are multi-millionaires.

Father's immediate family is made up of 3 daughters, all in their 30's. These girls are riddled with critical illnesses.

The Will:

Home to go in equal shares to 3 daughters.

The remainder of wealth is to go to Mother and Brother in equal shares.


Father goes to California to see Mother and Brother at Mother's request and by Mother's money. Mother and Brother convince Father that he should sell his home in Canada and put it up for sale for him. It is sold for $399,000  ($176,000 below assessed value). There is suddenly *nothing* available in the Will for the immediate family and the money from the house goes to Mother and Brother to total a sum of 100% of his wealth. Father thinks his Mother and Brother will 'do the right thing' while it is well known that this will not happen.

Is there any possible way of bringing this situation to a better and more fair ending?
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Nancy McCulloughAsked:
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You may receive some comments here that are valid. However, if this problem was mine and I had a very vested interest in it, I'm hiring a lawyer. This at least gives you the opportunity to file the necessary paperwork to stop or slow any actions where other parties are concerned.
You stated as well that the other parties are multi millionares and I'm sure that they have the best lawyers money can buy as well. The will is the key component. And if they coereced the father that's going to be hard to prove. At any rate, I wish you the best with this and hope it all works out as you desire.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Sounds like lawyer time.
Simplest fix to this would be to point out that with the sale of the house the will would need revision as the intended division will no longer happen.  Otherwise the only legal recourse is to prove duress and that the choice to sell was forced.  Family probate unfortunately keeps lawyers in business.
Nancy McCulloughAuthor Commented:
Daughters cannot afford a lawyer and have suggested the editing of the Will. Father said Brother would 'do the right thing' and left it at that.

Decision-making abilities have been tested with mixed results. While under the roof of Mother and Brother (same house), Father is subject to extreme coercion.
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Enabbar OcapCommented:
It might be different over there, but in the UK a will is really only an indication of intention. It is up to the executer of the will to carry out the wishes of the deceased as best they can, the executer has been named in the will and is trusted to follow the instructions in it.
Sometimes an instruction may be impossible to carry out and it is up to the executer to make a different decision.
Such an impossibility might be where 'the home' is listed in the will to be divided amongst parties, but the home has been sold or otherwise disposed of prior to death. Perhaps the executer might decide that the fair way to deal with this would be to share the value of the proceeds from the sale amongst the same parties, or maybe they could be persuaded to do this in a court of law.
Nancy McCulloughAuthor Commented:
Yet another detail: The Brother IS the executor. very very very bad. He will most definitely rob the Immediate Family of their rightful inheritance.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
So if there's not going to be a lawyer and no equivalent "duress" on the father while they remain competent to amend the terms of the will, the family will have to accept that any disagreements will need to be addressed after his death.

Really it's either cause friction while he's alive or struggle harder afterwards.  It doesn't sound like there's going to be much love lost between the parties involved in any event.

They either tell Dad how they see things ending up and asking that he put some kind of guidance in place even if they are wrong and brother turns out to be completely fair or wait and fight it out later.

There's little point later of offering a defense of couldn't afford legal advice after the event because the will wasn't correctly worded if the opportunity to correct this wasn't taken at the time.
Nancy McCulloughAuthor Commented:
Are there any ways to have a 'forced' competency evaluation in the US? If the family cannot see or talk to the Father (for the behaviour of the Brother and Mother), can they somehow force an external judgement of competency? The Father *barely* passed a competency exam 1 year ago and would most definitely fail now.
Enabbar OcapCommented:
(guessing) If he was deemed not competent wouldn't the authoritirs just grant probate to a close family member? That would mean he would no longer be able to make any decision except through them, giving them complete control of his finances.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
However a will drawn up before loss of capacity would remain valid. As described this is an unenviable position for the daughters but they need legal advice relevant to their location. Two guys in the UK having a guess at US/Canadian law probably won't carry a lot of weight :)
Enabbar OcapCommented:
That's why I stated my location and that I was guessing. Hopefully what I said might help rather than mislead. I lnow someone who is in a similar situation at the moment
and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a good solution.
Nancy McCulloughAuthor Commented:
Power of Attorney, the *only* power or attorney of any sort, was granted to one of his daughters over his Canadian bank account only. It holds $7,000. Being that she is the only person to have been granted any sort of POA during his 'sane' days, would this not prove that she is the most trusted person by him? Or is it moot?

The Brother and Mother are strangely evil. The family is enormously good. WHY does this feel like a bad comic book drama! lol

A lawyer on contingency might be the best route, though they don't generally like to tango with the US. It's not that the US is any better at anything, it's that the argument would need to be made on US soil and that would mean mega money paid out for semi-frequent travel.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Again this is based on the UK model but PoA can be granted to cover either specific events or long term, there is precedent that an award of PoA does not mean that that person could or should be considered to be the most appropriate to make further decisions outside the terms of the existing PoA.
I would suggest they need their legal advice now, not once probate has begun.

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Nancy McCulloughAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all for your opinion. I will be sending them to seek Legal Aid.
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