The lawyers of Obenshain Law Group helped a widow’s family challenge a will that gave $1.5 million to her lawyer, who drafted the will himself. In December, a Virginia jury found that the attorney in question, Robert B. Machen, took advantage of the widow. The jury was instructed on fraud and undue influence and it overturned the will.
Machen presented the Will to Wilma R. Williams, who was 93 and had her sign it after a recent fall and stroke. She died 10 days after she signed the will, which was prepared by Machen.
According to family members, Machen had been Mrs. Williams’s attorney since 1984 and in the will, he named himself primary beneficiary of the $1.7 million estate. The will also named Machen’s son as co-executor and contingent beneficiary, even though Mrs. Williams had never met the son.
Mark D. Obenshain and Justin M. Wolcott represented the family beneficiaries in the case and helped achieve justice after the jury overturned the fraudulent will, which the judge believed wasn’t signed by Williams, or was signed without her knowledge of its content.
“This case really represented an important intersection between my law practice and our public policy concerns about protecting the most vulnerable in our society,” Obenshain said. “It is what every lawyer ought to aspire to do, to right wrongs. And I feel like, at least thus far, justice is being served and the system is working. I hope it will continue to in this case.”
Common Reasons for Contesting a Will
To successfully contest a will is to prove that it doesn’t actually reflect the final wishes of the testator and shouldn’t be finalized or enforced the way it was written. Our lawyers have helped many clients contest wills and can help you if you believe there is an issue with the will of a family member.
The common reasons for contesting a will include:
- Lack of testamentary capacity: Your loved one’s mental state is important in proving a will’s validity in court.
- Undue influence: This occurs when a third party, like the lawyer in our case, uses their influence to benefit themselves.
- Improper execution – There are several legal requirements to properly execute a will and if they are not followed, then a will may be invalid.
Supportive Advocates with Decades of Legal Experience
If you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud, undue influence, or exploitation in the preparation of a will, then we’re here to help you right that wrong. The lawyers at Obenshain Law Group have helped countless families during these difficult times and as trial lawyers, we’ve settled many disputes over the validity of wills and trusts. Contact us to see if we may be able to help you too.
We’re also prepared to help you if you or a loved one has suffered personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence. If you’re suffering from lifelong injuries as the result of a car, motorcycle, or truck accident, or suspect that a loved one was injured or is being neglected in a nursing home, then contact us today to find a team of supportive advocates to help you recover just compensation for you or your loved one.
Obenshain Law Group is committed to righting wrongs by protecting the vulnerable. Call (540) 318-7360, or contact us online if you have a personal injury or elder abuse case – we’re here to protect you and your legal rights.