Case Hypothetical and Ethical Dilemma

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Case Hypothetical and Ethical Dilemma

For Greta Harrington and her husband Robert, it was love at first sight.  The two were married for 52 years until cancer took her husband at the age of 84.  Greta is currently 83 years old, and her marriage produced three offspring:  Samuel, 50 years old; Katherine, 45 years old; and Benjamin, 40 years old.  In his will, Robert left all of his financial interests, a considerable sum valued at $5 million, entirely to his wife; in his will, he also expressed love and affection for his three children, as well as the desire that Greta devise the remainder of the couple’s estate to their children, in equal portions, upon her death.

Greta has recently been “keeping company” with Gary Watson, a twice-divorced, 65-year-old bachelor with a reputation for “womanizing.”  While visiting her mother one weekend, Katherine is shocked to see a fully-executed will on the desk in the living room, devising all of her mother’s estate to Gary Watson.  She immediately calls Samuel and Benjamin, schedules an emergency “sibling meeting” for Sunday, and wonders what to do about her mother’s ill-advised decision.  She has noticed in recent months that her mother is often forgetful, frequently calls her “Sharon” (her aunt’s name,) and often confuses the days of the week.

Do the children have any legal rights in terms of successfully invalidating Greta Harrington’s will? From a legal and/or ethical standpoint, should a mother (even of adult children) be allowed to “disinherit” her offspring?

Undue influence is the influential exertions of a dominant person who utilizes an exceptional association with another person to impede the other person`s independent decision of the terms of a will. Any association where one person has an extraordinary level of confidence in the other person might prompt anxiety concerning undue influence. Once legitimate agreement is existent, the courts adopt that the two persons have decided on the basis of uninfluenced autonomy to consent or discard the conditions of the agreement. Nonetheless, many elements can influence the choices that people make. For instance Gary Watson has been keeping Greta company uses undue influence on the basis of this special relationship to change the will and inherit all the money that was otherwise to be inherited by Greta`s children. In this case, Gary Watson takes advantage of the central position in this relationship to unethically sway Greta and interfere with her capacity to make her individual decision concerning the will (Wood & Liu, 2012).


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