Toyota magnate's family fights over parents' will


People in California who follow business news may have heard about an interesting legal battle that is brewing in Miami, Florida between five siblings and heirs to the massive estate of multimillionaire Gerald Bean. After Bean died in 2011, the majority of his assets were put into a trust, with his wife serving as trustee. The trust included specific instructions that upon her passing, the trust assets were to be distributed to four of the five Bean children.

However, when the wife and mother died earlier this year, four of the siblings were in for a rude surprise; they had been disinherited in her will. This case seems to have all the makings of a tabloid sensation, enormous wealth, fighting brothers and sisters, and apparently no shortage of deceit and treachery.

The woman was 80-years-old at the time of her death, but according to a lawsuit filed by two of the Bean children, she suffered from serious and debilitating dementia, and was not of sound mind when she made the will leaving all of the Bean fortune to one of the Bean daughters. The lawsuit alleges that the daughter used her undue influence to cause the dementia-suffering woman to disinherit the majority of her children and give it all to her.

To complicate matters, the suit alleges that the daughter misrepresented the wishes of the family to the court by moving to seal the probate case file. She claimed it was the family's wishes that they keep the matter private, while the suit alleges she unilaterally moved to seal the records to keep her siblings from discovering her manipulation of the estate.

If the heirs who were disinherited can prove that their mother was not of sound mind, or that their sister used undue influence to coerce or deceive her into signing the curious will, then they may be entitled to their share of the inheritance as if the questionable will had never existed. This should be a very intriguing legal case to follow in the coming months.

Source: Daily Business Review, "Siblings at War Over Kendall Toyota Inheritance," John Pacenti, Sept. 12, 2014

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