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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 27, 2007 / 8 Nissan, 5767

Children suspect foul play with Dad's estate

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: When it came time to sort out my father's estate and probate his will (my sister and I are the sole beneficiaries), we began to suspect that during the last years of his life when he was most vulnerable, our stepmother — who has two children of her own by prior marriages — used Dad's power of attorney to fatten her wallet and benefit her and her children. Dad inherited more than $500,000 when our mother died six years ago, yet his estate is reporting only $45,000 in assets.


When we confronted her, she said Dad's funds were used to pay for his care and their joint living expenses. We know there is a premarital agreement and that she relinquished claims against his estate.


Our lawyer told us that under Dad's power of attorney, our stepmother could have done practically anything with his money without making an accounting. We haven't been able to get any of Dad's records because, as executrix of the estate, our stepmother refuses to produce them. The lawyer says even though we are beneficiaries, we are not entitled to any of these records due to privacy laws.


Because our father's estate is now so small, the lawyer suggests we put it behind us rather than run up large legal fees. But we are devastated and believe Dad was taken advantage of. Is the law such that a devious stepmother can walk away with everything, or do we have any rights to ensure that family assets are passed on in accordance with our father's wishes?


A: Unless your father's funds evaporated like the morning dew at sunlight, we tend to agree with you that something is amiss.


The remarriage of elderly people can cause many intra-family problems unless addressed in advance with appropriate documents that clearly state the intentions of the individuals involved, and provide required safeguards and protections. Not to do so often results in conflicts.


First, consider seeking the opinion of another lawyer. As his spouse, your stepmother had a fiduciary duty to your father not to benefit herself or her children from his assets — that is, unless his power of attorney was so broad as to specifically allow her to do so, which seems most unlikely to us.


Try to find a copy of the power of attorney from your local clerk of court — assuming it was recorded — and review it carefully to find out exactly what authority your father gave your stepmother as she may have overstepped her authority. Check the gifting provisions, especially.


Since you and your sister are the sole beneficiaries under your father's will, we will wager that in return for the transfer of assets to your stepmother at the time of the premarital agreement, she waived her rights to share in his estate. Otherwise, she would now be making a claim for her elective share or as an omitted spouse. In addition, we assume there would be provisions about support issues, including who was to pay what and from what source.


Taking the NextStep: We believe you and your sister may have a good-faith basis to bring an action to remove your stepmother as executrix based upon alleged malfeasance as your father's fiduciary. Through the discovery process, your lawyer should be able to get the records you need, not to mention your Dad's medical records that may shed light on his state of mind during the time you believe the funds were diverted. If you are correct, you should be able to have your stepmother removed as executrix and seek to have the funds returned to the estate.


Be forewarned: This is tough, lengthy litigation, and no lawyer will take this on without a sizeable retainer and expense deposit from you and your sister. So measure your steps carefully and don't bite off more than you can chew.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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