Berman & Asbel, LLP

Police officer's friendship under scrutiny, chiefs back his inheritance, II

In our prior post we shared the story of an eccentric elderly woman who decided to leave much of her estate to a police officer who she became friends with after he helped remove what she called "members of the nation's gang" from her property. That same property was left to the officer as well as a Cadillac, stocks and a bond.

She told interviewers before she died that "It's my money and my house and I'll do as I (expletive) please." Others did not feel quite the same way. A will contest was brought with two claims: undue influence was in play in the abrupt change in her estate plans and the inheritance violated the police department's policy against receiving gifts.

The probate judge had not yet made a ruling on either claim that was made, however others have certainly weighed in. There were a few individuals who said that they would contest the will, but thus far only one individual has actually done so. As to the first claim of undue influence, he said that the woman was suffering from dementia at the time that the officer took her to a new attorney where she made the changes.

As to the second claim that the inheritance itself violated the police department's policy against accepting gifts with the fear that they would influence either an officer's law enforcement action or inaction. The chief of police and deputy police chief both said that an investigation showed that neither the inheritance nor expectation of an inheritance influenced his duties as a law enforcement officer. They both said that the officer was an individual who could be respected and that none of his behaviors ever crossed a line or brought negative scrutiny upon the department.

Source: Sea Coast Online, "Chiefs defend officer named in woman's will," Elizabeth Dinan, March 3, 2013

Our Philadelphia law firm handles issues and disputes that arise during probate and estate administration. Visit our website to learn more.

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