Court: Father with dementia hoodwinked into disowning competing sons

Will voided by expert who did not examine elderly man before his death.

Money cash Shekels currency 521 (photo credit: Reuters)
Money cash Shekels currency 521
(photo credit: Reuters)
The will of an elderly man who disowned two of his three sons has been voided by the Jerusalem Family Court based on expert testimony that the man was not of sound mind when he signed.
However, in a rare move in the decision which was first announced Sunday, the medical expert who declared the man legally incompetent had never examined the elderly man first-hand.
Rather, the court said that the medical expert’s opinion based on medical documents from when the elderly man was alive was sufficient to trump a lawyer, a will signed by two witnesses and other witnesses who testified to the man’s sound mind.
The man had three sons: Y, X and H.S. Although in an earlier will, the three sons were meant to share equally in the inheritance of the man, sometime after 2007-2008, the man signed a new will disowning X and H.S., and granting all of his inheritance to Y.
The man died in April 2013, and Y filed a motion in September 2013 to be granted possession of the entire estate.
X filed an opposition in June 2014, requesting that the court void the will on the grounds that Y had manipulated the man after he was already in a state of dementia.
X said that Y destroyed and threw out aspects of the man’s property against his wishes while he was still alive.
The two sides fought over who was closer to their father, with Y saying that X had abandoned their father.
In contrast, X said that Y manipulated X into keeping him away from most of the world, and withheld information about their father’s deteriorating health condition.
Lawyer S.B., who wrote the new will, contended the father was of sound mind when he signed it and noted the will’s witnesses had testified to the father being of sound mind.
The father’s brother, G.S., also testified that his brother did not experience an onset of dementia until 2009 after he had already signed the new will.
The court rejected the will and these witnesses. It said that the lawyer, brother and Y did not give examples of the man being of sound mind and did not bring the witnesses who signed the will to testify.
The court’s medical expert declared that there was evidence in 2008-2009 showing that the man’s dementia dated back to 2007 – before he signed the new will.
He pointed to medical documents from April and September 2008 which said the man did not know that he had children. When asked about his children, he said they were nephews or brothers. Moreover, the documents said that the man could not follow directions and hesitated overtly when speaking.
Collectively, the court said this meant it would take the extraordinary step of voiding the will even though the expert had never examined the man himself.