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Abuse of the Elderly for Financial Gain

In the year 2000, Howard Thomas suffered severe dementia. He also had terminal cancer. In early 2001, his daughter, who was his primary caretaker, took a short vacation. He was left in the care of a Nidia Thomas. While Mr. Thomas’s daughter was away, Nidia arranged for a $150,000 bank account in Mr. Thomas’s name to be retitled from his name to a joint account with her. She had herself named as sole beneficiary on his pension and she married him. He died several months thereafter.

Howard’s Children Challenge Nidia’s Inheritance

Howard’s three children brought a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in the State of New York to declare the marriage between their father and Nidia null and void. They also proceeded in the Probate Court against her. Ms. Thomas filed a Notice of Election under the estates, powers and trust law, section 5-1.1-A. She asserted her right as a surviving spouse to receive a portion of her deceased husband’s estate. In the Supreme Court proceeding, the court eventually issued a decision stating that Nidia “shall have no legal rights and claim no legal interest as a spouse of Mr. Thomas.” She filed an appeal claiming that, even if the marriage was annulled or voided post death, she is still entitled to receive her share of his estate as a spouse. In this case, an appellate court held that, because Mr. Thomas was incapable of consenting to the marriage due to lack of mental capacity, his spouse could be denied a right of election based on the equitable principal that a court will not permit a party to profit from his or her own wrongdoing. Nidia lost. She received no money from Mr. Thomas’s estate. It all went to his children.

Wills and Trusts Lawyer

Our law office probates wills. We represent individuals on contested wills and estate proceedings. We also draft wills. We provide estate administration services when

loved ones or friends die. We deal with estate tax issues, estate planning issues, and all types of elder care and nursing home issues. We prepare medicaid applications and we assist our clients in medicaid planning techniques. We draft revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts and special needs trusts on behalf of our clients. Call us should you have an issue concerning a will, a trust or an estate matter.

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