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Judge Confirms Man’s Mental Capacity; Ends Estate Litigation

Jan. 31, 2019

When one takes the time to establish estate plans, it is likely not anticipated that there will be any challenges — especially before his or her demise. Unfortunately, there may be attempts on the part of disgruntled heirs to initiate estate litigation. New York residents who are concerned about such challenges may take steps to ensure their wishes are upheld.

Recently, a judge ruled in favor of one man’s estate plans by confirming his mental capacity. Purportedly, 95-year-old Sumner Redstone, who owns the majority share of National Theater Amusements and is a major shareholder of CBS Corporation and Viacom, amended a trust that he established in 2003. His former girlfriend challenged those changes that directly affected her. She claimed that Redstone lacked the mental clarity to make such changes or to make decisions regarding his businesses.

A judge ruled that he does possess the mental clarity to amend to his estate plans. He purportedly decided to go back to original plans regarding a trust he set up in 2003. Details regarding what changes he previously made were not released, though it was noted that the woman was no longer named as the proxy for his health care decisions. The case also apparently included allegations of elder abuse that may have been committed by his former female companion.

The judge’s order resolves the estate litigation that has been ongoing for several years. Purportedly, Redstone settled other suits, including one involving the woman that ended with her returning approximately $3.25 million in gifts and a clarification that she no longer has any stake in decisions regarding Redstone’s affairs or well-being. The court did appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure that his best interests are protected. New York residents who are concerned about the validity of their estate plans being challenged may be best served by consulting with an experienced attorney who can help draft the plans that will best serve their individual needs.