Fort Walton Beach, FL asked in Estate Planning for Florida

Q: What is conflict of interest when it comes to wills and lawyers?

My father changed his will six months before he died. In the new will myself and my sibling were all but cut out and his church and two individuals in the church cut in for the bulk of my father’s estate.

My father was in his right mind when he changed his will so my sibling and I did not challenge the will before he died (cancer).

It wasn’t until after his death that we learned that the same church couple he left money to also physically took him to a new lawyer and that the lawyer was also the lawyer for my father’s church. My sibling and I met with the lawyer who received a fee for the will. He said it was not a conflict of interest to represent the church and my father.

It always bothered me because my father although in his right mind was looking for a miracle and would talk about being healed by the prayers of church clergy.

I’m wondering if my sibling and I are victims of a scam or not.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: I am not a Florida lawyer and so I am not familiar with Florida’s conflicts of interest rules, but this does have a kind of stench to it. One way you can obtain information is to tell your story to the grievance section of the State Bar of Florida at 866-352-0707 and see what they decide to do about it. This is a long term play, however.

In the short term you need to take immediate action to contest the will or you will lose your rights if it is not already too late. Hire an attorney who specializes in will contests. Generally speaking, a will can be overturned for undue influence even if the testator was otherwise in his “right mind”. There does seem to have possibly been a degree of elder abuse here as well.

Terrence H Thorgaard and Seril L Grossfeld agree with this answer

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