Although wills are intended to prevent family members from arguing over a loved one’s assets and property, there are exceptions. Because people in New Jersey sometimes change their wills when they’re nearing the end of their life, when they may be elderly and ailing, their decision-making abilities may be diminished. Unfortunately, some family members who don’t have their relative’s best interests in mind may take advantage of this situation to pursue their own self-interest.
A few years before his death, Hudson media founder Robert Cohen drafted a will that would have given his daughter, Claudia Cohen, a large share of his fortune. The size of the fortune is unknown. After Claudia Cohen passed away in 2007, her daughter argued that her uncle, James Cohen, had coerced his father to change the will so that he would receive the majority of the Revlon fortune instead. However, it is unclear whether the woman, Samantha Perelman, has any evidence of her uncle’s wrongdoing. Perelman is also likely to inherit the Revlon Cosmetics fortune, which is estimated to be worth billions.
Unfortunately, legal battles over wills can be costly. Since Robert Cohen’s death, the two families involved have spent more than $60 million, and their costs are expected to increase. A nonjury trial will begin this week, and it is expected to last several weeks.
In most cases, wills provide a person’s relatives with clear instructions for the distribution of property, and they’re an essential part of anyone’s estate plan. People who are interested in taking care of their family members after their death may want to set up an appointment with an estate-planning attorney.
Source: New Jersey, “Trial over billionaire Revlon heiress’ inheritance to begin next week,” Dan Ivers, Sep. 17, 2013