Wittmer & Linehan Recover Lost Inheritance for Daughter and Grandson
In 2012, Dorothy Bozeman was diagnosed with lung cancer. As her condition worsened, Dorothy was admitted to hospice care in August 2013. Dorothy and her husband had built a successful land development business in Polk County, Florida. Dorothy’s husband died in 2012 without having drafted a Last Will and Testament. Dorothy became the sole owner of the family business and also neglected to draft estate-planning documents.
Dorothy had two living children, daughters Belinda Bozeman-Howell and Sheila Bozeman-Coble. Dorothy’s son had predeceased her years earlier, leaving a son, Kenneth Bozeman. Belinda lived close to Dorothy and as a result took on caregiver duties. Belinda also worked in the family business.
Dorothy’s health rapidly declined, and she was admitted to end-of-life care in hospice. It was at this time that Belinda decided that Dorothy needed a Will. Belinda arranged for her attorneys to prepare a Will and visit Dorothy in hospice to execute the same. This Will divided her estate equally between her two daughters.
Two days later, Belinda again contacted her attorney and requested a Codicil to the Will. Based entirely on Belinda’s instruction, the First Codicil transferred $75,000 to Sheila, and the remainder of Dorothy’s estate was to go to Belinda. Both the Will and Codicil omitted Kenneth Bozeman.
Sheila and Kenneth retained Wittmer | Linehan to challenge the Codicil and recover their lost inheritance. Our Firm went to work, speaking with witnesses and reviewing medical records for Dorothy. As a result we located one of the witnesses to the signing of the Will. This witness provided crucial sworn testimony that during the last six weeks of her life, Dorothy had been incapable of making decisions for herself. He did not even recognize Dorothy’s signature.
Earlier on the day of the signing of the Codicil, Dorothy received several powerful medications including morphine. As a result of our investigation, we built a powerful case and were prepared to show the court that neither the Will nor Codicil were actually desired by Dorothy and that she most likely did not understand the documents at the time they were executed. Our clients were able to obtain a very favorable settlement at mediation.
This case perfectly illustrates the importance of careful estate planning and how the vulnerability of a loved one can easily be taken advantage of if end-of-life plans are not made. If you know of anyone who has questions about their inheritance rights, please direct them to Wittmer & Linehan PLLC.