The story of Geraldine Webber's estate has been followed closely on several estate planning blogs. The gist is that Webber was an elderly woman who met an on-duty police officer named Aaron Goodwin. Although Goodwin had a wife and children and was much younger than Webber, it appears that she became enamored with him.
She rewrote her will to leave Goodwin a $2 million inheritance.
The will was challenged by a group of Webber's friends, two hospitals, a city, and a school on the basis that Goodwin had unduly influenced and taken advantage of her. The challengers won the case.
However, as Seacoast Online reports in "Doc charged $70K for losing testimony in cop's inheritance case," testimony from one witness came at a steep cost for the estate.
A doctor, who was hired by the estate to serve as an expert witness, concluded that Webber was competent and not suffering from dementia at the time she signed the will.
The doctor, who reached his conclusion by reviewing medical records and visiting Webber's home, had never met her. For his services to the losing case he is asking to be paid $70,120 by the estate. A judge will have to approve the amount.
And that is just one way that probate can get so expensive. There is no "one size fits all" solution to avoiding probate, but probate avoidance should be one of the goals of your estate plan. Your trusted advisors can help you pick the alternatives that will work best for your situation.