Grandson, successor trustee of grandmother’s trust and beneficiary of her entire estate, retained us to represent him against cousins who sued. Cousins alleged (1) grandmother lacked capacity to change her trust, and grandson (2) exerted undue influence to get her to change estate plan, (3) committed financial elder abuse. We executed a targeted discovery plan. The overwhelming evidence we obtained disproved all claims. Armed with this information, we convinced plaintiffs to dismiss the lawsuit for a waiver of costs. Our client kept the entire estate.
The Story: Several years before his grandmother’s death, he had moved in to help take care of her. Although he had a job, he also cooked for his grandmother, took her to medical appointments and social engagements, and called her several times a day to make sure everything was alright. Over time, grandma made several changes to her trust. Initially, our client was to receive one quarter of her estate. She then gave him one quarter, plus the opportunity to live in the house for 90 days following her death. She then continued to give him a quarter of the estate and the right to live in the house for his life (a life estate.) Finally, she ultimately gave him her entire estate including ownership of the house.
Avoiding Scorched Earth (and expensive) Tactics: We made a very strategic discovery plan which started by obtaining all medical records of the grandmother, and taking deposition of three key people, including one of her best friends. We also sent written questions (special interrogatories) to the cousins, to establish that they did not have any evidence to support their case.
The medical records established that the grandmother was fully competent when she made the changes. They also establish that not only was she not unduly influenced by her grandson, but that she was so grateful for everything he did, that she wanted him to have everything. The deposition of her best friend reiterated that grandmother loved her grandson and was appreciative of him taking care of her. It also established that she was less-than-pleased with her other grandchildren. Depositions of the drafting attorney and his paralegal, established that grandmother knew exactly what she was doing when she mad the changes to her trust. Responses from the cousins, demonstrated they had no evidence to support their lawsuit.
In the end, we convinced plaintiffs to dismiss the lawsuit for a waiver of costs. Our client kept the entire estate.