Hudson News Mogul's Will Contested by Granddaughter
A new video has surfaced in the fight over the late Hudson News magnate's will, with new evidence supporting his granddaughter's claim that he was incapacitated when he cut her out of his will.
A video deposition of Robert Cohen taken in 2009 (three years prior to his death) has been introduced in Samantha Perelman's case, the New York Post reports. Perelman, Cohen's granddaughter, alleges that her uncle improperly influenced the addled Cohen into cutting her out of "a $600 million inheritance."
The video may make viewers uncomfortable. But will it prove that Cohen wasn't legally fit to make changes to his will?
Estate Battle Over Hudson Media Empire
The most recent battle over Cohen's estate started in September 2013, when Samantha Perlman, 23, sued her uncle James Cohen for reducing her inheritance and taking millions from Robert Cohen's estate.
According to The New York Times, James Cohen -- who now heads his late father's Hudson Media company -- portrayed Perelman as "insensitive" and indifferent to her grandfather, while Perelman argued that the Cohens prevented her from seeing her grandfather in his final days.
Perelman claims that the final will which reduced her expected inheritance was the product of her uncle's undue influence on her grandfather.
Undue influence is a very common reason for inheritors, especially those in a large estate like this, to challenge a will. Although the video was originally created for a 2009 case where a judge ruled Robert Cohen was "functionally competent," reports the Post, it will be up to New Jersey Judge Estela M. De La Cruz to determine Cohen's capacity in this case.
Capacity to Make a Will
For any person's will to be valid, that person -- known as the testator -- must have had testamentary capacity. In other words, testators like Robert Cohen must have understood:
- The nature and extent of his property,
- To whom his estate would be transferred, and
- How his property would be divided upon his death.
In the video, Robert Cohen is asked several questions about the division of his estate to his children, but his various responses are so incomprehensible that an interpreter was needed. This footage and other testimony regarding Cohen's state prior to executing his will may ultimately determine whether Cohen's current will is held as valid.
If you're concerned about your family's estate or want to review your will, contact an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
- Video of Hudson News mogul shows he's barely able to speak shortly after he drastically cut inheritance for granddaughter (New York Daily News)
- Estate Planning and Undue Influence (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Who Can Challenge a Will? (FindLaw)
- An Attorney-Drafted Will and Annual Updates Are Included With a Legal Plan From LegalStreet (LegalStreet.com)
(Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)