Battle Continues Over Tony-Winning Actress' Estate - New York Estate Planning News

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Battle Continues Over Tony-Winning Actress' Estate

Legendary actress Julie Harris' estate battle continues. This time Harris' former lawyer is claiming that the actress wasn't of sound mind when she named Francesca Rubino as co-executor of her estate.

Rubino, who may be better known by her stage name Francesca James, was Harris' caretaker before she died. As a result of being named in Harris' will, Rubino stood to inherit at least $250,000 from Harris' estate, reports Playbill.

However, Harris' former attorney alleges that the actress didn't have the mental capacity to leave a chunk of her fortune to Rubino.

Changes to Harris' will

Julie Harris' estate fight involves changes made to her will that were allegedly influenced by Rubino and her lawyer. The actress's former attorney claims that those changes shouldn't be enforced because they were made under fraud and undue influence.

Harris suffered multiple strokes before she died and it's alleged that as her health worsened, so did her mind and memory. The contested changes made to Harris' will give Rubino a chance to inherit at least half of the actress' estate, reports New York Post.

Although Harris' son is set to inherit the majority of the estate, certain provisions in her will bar her son from getting anything if he threatens, assaults, or harasses any of Harris' friends, including Rubino.

These changes were a red flag for Harris' former attorney and caused him to challenge the will in court.

Why Wills are Challenged

While Harris was correct in updating her will over time to ensure it reflects her wishes, some claim it was done so under fraud and undue influence.

Undue influence and fraud frequently involve a vulnerable person being manipulated or tricked into leaving a portion of their estate to the perpetrator. Basically, the person changing or creating the will lacked the free will or mental capacity to understand the consequences of her decisions when amending it.

In Harris' case, if the court finds that Rubino manipulated Harris into adding the caretaker to her will and that it occurred when Harris' mental and physical health were poor, then those revisions may be removed.

Drafting or amending a will can be a confusing task. If you need help, contact a local, experienced estate planning lawyer.

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