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My question really is: If an elderly person's psychiatric records prove (and document) that the person was mentally ill and/or delusional at the time that they changed their estate plan, can the changes to the estate plan be invalidated upon proof, even after the elderly person has passed away? What is the process to get the proof and then have the changes invalidated? My severely mentally ill and delusional dad changed his part of my parents' long-standing estate plan. Because the standards in his state for proving mental competence are very low (does the person know their name, address, phone number, have a sense of time and place--- basically a mini-mental test), his estate atty did no more than this cursory check, which he passed. His atty was unaware that my dad was under psychiatric care at the VA in his city. Had she legally been required to also have 2 drs certify his mental competence, in addition to the mini mental test, and/or to have him seen by a Psychiatrist to assess his mental functioning or checked with his Psychiatrist, I believe that my dad's atty would never have allowed him to change his part of my parents' estate plan. He unsuccessfully tried to change my mom's part of the trust, but legally couldn't because she had already passed away (and even if she had been alive, she had dementia and wouldn't have been competent to agree to the change). My dad has been very successfully able to hide his long-standing mental illness and fairly recent delusional behavior from non-family members. His atty remembered him from 8 years previous when my parents had changed their estate plan and when my dad wasn't delusional. Even at that time, he had hidden his severe mental illness from her. So, she appears to have just gone on what she knew about him before. Given his pathological lying and his ability to manipulate and blindside people, it appears that he did this with his atty and she allowed him to change his estate plan. In my opinion, when someone in their 90s suddenly decides to change their estate plan, this should raise all sorts of red flags in an estate atty's mind. And, whether or not it's required by law to do so, the estate atty should do more than just a cursory mini-mental test and should be go the extra mile to contact the elderly person's drs to certify the person's competence and should also seek to find out if the person is currently or has been under psychiatric care. If not, the atty should request that a psychiatric evaluation to determine mental competence be done. Until drs and a psychiatric eval have certified an elderly person's mental competence, the estate atty should allow no changes to the estate plan to be made.

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"Nothing more than a cursory mini-mental" suggests the attorney used due diligence in assessing his client, plus he knew the client from previous contact.
Dad may have cut you out in a snit of temper , but that does not equal incompetence.
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Mental illness, personality disorders do not equate to incompetence necessarily. And it seems that you are saying that an elderly person has to prove their competence to the attorney? Why? After you reach a certain age, you automatically have less civil rights?
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If your Dad was that severely mentally ill, his attorney wouldn't have allowed your Dad to make any changes to his Will/Trust/Estate. Apparently his attorney didn't notice any changes.

Attorneys cannot contact hospitals or doctors to see if any of their law clients had been under doctor's care of any type.... that is against Federal HIPAA law [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996].
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rr4, I just reviewed your earlier message about the problem you had with you father when it came to the healthcare POA for your mother. You can try, but given the history, they will probably let the changes stand. Life can be so unfair, but still be legal.
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rr4terps, who went with your Dad to the attorney's office when he made the changes to his Will? Or did your Dad go to the Attorney himself on his own accord? If someone else was in the room with your Dad with his Attorney, then the Attorney will ask your Dad if it is ok for that person to be in the same room. Attorney's are sharp enough to know if an elder is being forced to make any changes.

Otherwise, a person can change their estate planning as many times as they wish. The changes might not be what the grown children would want to see, but it's not their estate to have a say.
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It may be that you father was legally competent, because NPD and BPD do not make people incompetent. They just make them difficult or impossible to be around. If there had been no legal declaration from doctors that your father was incompetent, then it can't be judged at this late date. Now, if you had the letters from the doctors about competence, it would be different.

If incompetence can't be shown, you can challenge the changes to the will based on undue influence. You'll have to tell us a bit more about that situation. Depending on what the situation is, this can work either for or against the case you are trying to make.
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I hope your attorney can find some way to get back your family heirlooms. I know we can't help, but I do have my fingers crossed for you.
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Thanks, JessieBelle. And, thanks for your comments and perspectives on this. While I'm keeping my fingers crossed, I've resigned myself to it not happening. The beneficiary group is of the same ilk as my dad. You'd think (and hope) that they would be sensitive to the fact that I'm the sole survivor of my family and that, on that basis, those items should stay with me. But, I suspect that they're looking at the art pieces from the monetary value. However, as my attorney told me when I mentioned this to her, getting artwork assessed is a pain. And then, you usually don't get the full value of the piece anyway unless it was a museum quality piece, which none of the pieces is. If my mom was alive and mentally with it, she wouldn't have allowed my dad to make any changes to their estate plan. And, she would've killed him if she knew that he had left the tangibles to non-family members. Passing heirlooms down through generations was a very important thing to my mom, something which she expressed many times over the years. She made it very clear to my family and me that she wanted us to have those heirlooms and to have them passed down through the generations. As it is, my dad gave away all of my mom's antiques to Goodwill about 3 years before her death--- she would have been heartbroken if she had known he had done this because she also made it clear that these were part of the heirlooms to be passed down. A mentally ill parent (and any relative for that matter) is very difficult to deal with, especially when the mentally illness impairs their decision making, as it did with my dad. I look at him with only hatred and disdain for his mental abuse of my mom, sister, and me over many years, even though intellectually I know that I should be more understanding by virtue of the fact of his mental illness. His decision to leave these heirlooms to non-family members is just the icing on the cake of my feelings for him.
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At one point my mother threatened to give away all her money to charity, which I thought was a great idea! Would much rather it go to homeless animals than lawyers and my brother :-)
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rr4terps, if there is any legal remedy to this situation, only attorneys could help you. We can't.

Perhaps venting here is helping you deal with being so angry and upset. If so, glad we could help. If venting here is not sufficient relief, I hope you will see a therapist and get back the calm and serenity you deserve in your life.

Have you offered to buy the items of sentimental value to you?
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