Q: My mother died 7/24/13 in PA and she and my dad have had the same wills for the past 25-30 years dividing property equally between my brother and me. My dad went to Anchorage to live with my brother after my mom’s funeral service and I asked for a copy of their will. My brother is an attorney and works for the AG office and said it was just changed 11/1/13. It leaves everything to him. My dad is 84 and on 10/4/13 went unconscious with insufficient blood supply to his brain. He recovered but is not in good mental capacity. I would not have known anything about the change of will had I not asked. I think there is deceit and undue influence. I have numerous people who would verify what my mom’s wishes were because she spoke about it a lot before her death. My mom and dad’s other will was from PA where they lived and where all the property is. We are talking about a substantial amount of property. I don’t have the money to fight him and wonder what can be done if anything.
A: You need to confirm whether mom and dad had typical husband and wife wills in which each inherits from the other. If that is the case, your dad inherited from your mother. The issue is whether your father had competency to make the will that your brother speaks of. If you wish to have the will challenged, you probably need a doctor to opine that at the time it was signed by dad he was incompetent. For example, he was on medication at the time, did he suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, etc. In PA, you would need that to prove he was incompetent at the time. Proving undue influence would require witnesses to say your brother misled, bullied, coerced, or manipulated your dad into signing. Unless you have credible witnesses to support these allegations, it would be difficult. Unfortunately, you need to hire a lawyer in Alaska. He could contact your brother, ask for a copy of the will, and try to see if he can get an opinion from your dad’s doctor as to your dad’s competency when he entered the will. This is a tough battle. If there is a large amount of money at stake, an attorney may be able to forego a retainer if he believes there is a case.