CNN recently reported about a woman whose aunt gave nearly her entire estate of $300,000 to Family Radio, the non-profit California station that broadcast unsuccessful predictions about the end of the world.
Contested wills in New York probate court can be difficult because they require specific requirements other than a family member feeling slighted by a loved one who passed away. New York Estate and Will Lawyers have handled an untold number of these cases and are well-versed in this area of law. Whether it’s contesting a will or planning an estate, it is a good idea to seek professional guidance.
Family Radio’s owner, Harold Camping, has grown to celebrity status in recent months with his predictions that May 21 would mark the return to Earth of Jesus Christ, which would lead to a rapture of believers followed by five months of hell on Earth by non-believers before the world ends. His followers traveled across the country in RVs with large signs plastered on the sides, picketed busy intersections and even purchased billboards in foreign countries proclaiming their predictions. Camping has now said he miscalculated the date, which he now believes is October 21.
As CNN also reported, the non-profit organization is operated largely by donations and brought in $80 million between 2005 and 2009, including $18 million in 2009 alone.
Apparently, $300,000 of these donations came from a Queens woman who died in May 2010. As news of the doomsday prediction made news leading up to May 21, a relative of the woman said she and her sister were each left only $25,000 from her aunt’s estate and the rest went to Family Radio.
While she believes her aunt was comforted by the radio’s discussions about heavenly treasures, she didn’t know it was the same group that was working people into a frenzy about the end of the world. Had her aunt lived to see the prediction fail, the aunt may have had second thoughts and might not have left her money to the organization. While the woman said she wasn’t in need of the money, other family members could have benefited from a larger bequest.
Sometimes family members can successfully challenge whether the loved one had the mental capacity to make the decisions they made in preparing their end-of-life documents. It’s also sometimes possible that executors and others involved in helping a person plan their will can unjustly influence their decisions.
These issues require court action and should only be tackled with an attorney who has the experience necessary to protect your inheritance and the integrity of a loved one’s estate.
Manhattan Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in estate proceedings throughout the past 30 years including Bronx and Nassau counties. For a free consultation please call me at (212) 355-2575.
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