My brother announced two weeks after my fathers death that my father had given him a 40 year lease to our family farm. My father was unable to read for months prior to his death and had onset of dementia. He had no legal counsel in the transaction. He had previously established a will which distributed the farm equally amongst three siblings. Is this grounds to successfully oppose him? I am named as a secondary executor
It may not be grounds to oppose him being appointed as Executor, but you should definitely consult with an attorney about a limited appointment to invalidate the lease, and a possible Accounting.
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Ethics / Professional Responsibility Lawyer
If you want the will to control and wish to bring property back into the estate, you can bring a proceeding in Surrogate's Court to invalidate the lease on the basis that it was improperly procured. You would require evidence that your father did not understand what he was signing or that your brother used fraud or undue influence. How likely you would be to succeed depends on the strength of the evidence. These are typically tough, expensive cases. Start by consulting with a probate litigation attorney - not the attorney for the estate.
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Construction / Development Lawyer
First, understand that estate litigation can become extremely expensive. Although it may be a difficult thing to do, a cost benefit analysis should be undertaken to see if the value of an unencumbered 1/3 of the farm is worth the legal fees you will incur. If it is, then contact a local litigation/probate lawyer for a consult. The key issues will be your father's mental state and whether there was undue influence.
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