Goehring Rutter & Boehm recently prevailed when attorney Michael K. Parrish defended a challenge to the probate of a Last Will. The party challenging the Last Will was a nephew of the decedent. Michael represented the remaining nephews and nieces.
This case was unusual because the decedent was a Swedish immigrant who hand wrote his own Last Will without the aid of an attorney. This circumstance raised uncertainties about the Last Will’s provisions that ultimately led to litigation. Additionally, the trial of this case was made more complicated by the fact that all of the heirs live in Sweden. Fortunately, they were able to participate at trial through the use of video conferencing with the aid of a Swedish interpreter.
The usual reasons for challenging a Last Will are that the testator lacked the cognitive ability to understand what he or she was doing; that the testator was cajoled into making the Last Will by undue influence; or that the Last Will was forged or otherwise fraudulently procured.
Goehring Rutter & Boehm was successful in proving that the deceased uncle in this case clearly understood what he was doing when he wrote his will and that there was absolutely no foul play. The results of the victory were that his last wishes were honored and his family was protected.
The most important lesson to be learned from this case is the importance of having legal counsel assist in the preparation and execution of your Last Will or Trust. Because attorneys act to protect their clients from the undue influence of designing persons, the Court give strong weight to the testimony of an attorney who prepares a document or who was present when it was signed. The litigation Goehring Rutter & Boehm defended could have been avoided if the decedent had obtained professional assistance in the creation of his Last Will.