In a case demonstrating the importance of preparing clear estate planning documents and reviewing them with trusted parties, a judge recently overturned the last will and testament of the late Elizabeth Lacey of Lawrence, Massachusetts, the Merrimack Valley Eagle Tribune reports.
After the 89-year-old Lacey passed away in 2007, her family was surprised to learn she named a neighbor, William Hale, her sole beneficiary, according to the Eagle Tribune. Lacey had often complained that Hale pestered her for money and said she did not trust him, so family members challenged the will in probate court.
Judge Mary Ann Sahagian agreed Lacey did not mean to bequeath her estate to Hale, and ordered that an earlier will, prepared in 2000, be honored.
Sahagian also found that Hale had been forging Lacey's name to cash her pension checks before and after her death. When questioned about this during the probate trial, Hale invoked the 5th Amendment, the Merrimack Valley newspaper reports.
Hale was likely able to trick Lacey into signing the second will because he and Lacey had the same lawyer, who was a longtime friend of Hale's, according to the source.