A challenge to a will alleging lack of mental capacity and undue influence that involved a separate lawsuit alleging tortious interference settled for a combined total of $185,000.
Ruby Ellen King died at age 95 in 2012 with a will that purported to leave her entire estate to her son, Arthur Eugene King (Gene King). Besides Gene, Mrs. King had two other children, Robert King and Mary Ann King Person. Mrs. King executed her will in 2009.
Since 2005 Gene King had served as his mother’s power of attorney. Shortly after becoming his mother’s power of attorney, Gene King transferred all his mother’s financial assets into a joint account that named him as the sole beneficiary upon his mother’s death. The transfer of Mrs. King’s financial assets to the joint account and the will purporting to leave her entire estate to Gene King left her other two children completely disinherited. Due to the complex underlying financial transactions involved in this dispute, both the will caveat and the tortious interference with contract lawsuit were necessary.
Robert King and Person alleged that their mother had a long history of dementia prior to the execution of her will and possibly prior to 2005 when Gene King became his mother’s power of attorney. They contended that Gene King and his wife Barbara King had orchestrated the execution of the documents that led to them being disinherited. Therefore, they claimed Mrs. King’s will was invalid and the financial transfer must be rescinded.
After filing the caveat and the lawsuit, the parties engaged in informal discovery and mediation was scheduled. Bill King, no relation, of Moore & Van Allen mediated the dispute, which was successful. Both cases settled for a combined total of $185,000. Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens approved the Family Settlement Agreement, which provided that after the settlement was paid, the 2009 will would be probated in accordance with its terms. The settlement has since been paid in full.
Jay Mills, attorney for Robert King and Mary Ann King declined to comment.
SETTLEMENT REPORT: Will caveat
Allegations: Undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, tortious interference with contract
Case name: In re Ruby Ellen King; Robert King and Mary Ann King Person v. Arthur Eugene King and Barbara J. King
Case number: 13-E-745; 13 CVS 12218
Court: Wake County Superior Court
Mediator: Bill King of Moore & Van Allen (Raleigh)
Judge: Donald Stephens
Date of approval: Jan. 23
Attorney for plaintiffs: Jay Mills of Burns Day & Presnell (Raleigh)
Attorney for defendant: Brian Moore of Howard, Stallings, From & Hutson (Raleigh)