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Woman's competency questioned in dispute over will

There's an interesting legal dispute over a will far up the Atlantic coast from Lee County.

On one side of the dispute is an elderly woman's long-time attorney. On the other side, there's a police detective who stands to inherit the estate of the woman who turns 94 in December.

One of the central questions in their dispute is whether the woman was competent to make changes to her will two years ago. Her attorney of 25 years says he has drawn up a number of wills for the woman in the time he has known her, and all of them were fairly consistent until November of 2010.

That's when she met a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, detective after she had called police about a prowler. Two weeks later, the attorney says, the woman called him, declared that she was in love with the detective and that she wanted to name him as sole beneficiary in her will.

Her estate apparently contains significant assets, including a waterfront home worth $805,000, according to a news report.

Her long-time attorney argues that the detective has been serving as the woman's companion in order to "inherit the entire estate."

He argues that the woman has been suffering "increasingly" from Alzheimer's disease, dementia and poor eyesight.

The lawyer has powers of attorney, he told the court, and he refused the woman's request to change her will. "I've known her for almost 30 years," he told the court in a recent hearing. "I know the difference between her competency."

He brought with him to court an 85-year-old woman described as a friend of the elderly woman whose will and competency are the focus of the dispute.

The 85-year-old told the court her friend suffers from dementia and Alzheimer's and that she has proof of the problems.

The attorney for the detective counters that the woman in question is "an extraordinary person" with both physical and mental "quickness and agility."

Source: seacoastonline.com, "Woman's competency debated in estate battle involving city detective," Nov. 9, 2012

  • Our Lee County firm represents clients in similar situations and also provides legal guidance to help avoid such situations. For more information, please visit our Fort Myers estate planning page.

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