business law 256

Bob Smith and his wife Mary Smith were married for 52 years until cancer took Mary’s life at the age of 84. Bob is currently 83 years old, and his marriage produced three offspring: Bob, Jr., 50 years old; Mary, Jr., 48 years old; and Mary Bob, 46 years old. In her will, Mary left all of her financial interests, a considerable sum valued at $5 million, entirely to Bob; in her will, she also expressed love and affection for their three children, as well as the desire that Bob devise the remainder of the couple’s estate to their children, in equal portions, upon his death.

Bob has recently begun dating Sally Walker, a twice-divorced, 65-year-old with a reputation for conning older widowers. While visiting her father one weekend, Mary is shocked to see a fully-executed will on the desk in the living room, devising all of her father’s estate to Sally Walker. She immediately calls her siblings, schedules an emergency “sibling meeting” for Sunday, and wonders what to do about her father’s ill-advised decision. She has noticed in recent months that her father is often forgetful, frequently calls her “Sharon” (her aunt’s name), and often confuses the days of the week.

For the purposes of this question, assume that the courts will treat Bob’s will as if it were a contract. (This assumption is not entirely accurate.) Do the children have any legal rights in terms of successfully invalidating Bob Smith’s will? Why or why not? From a legal and/or ethical standpoint, should a father (even of adult children) be allowed to “disinherit” his offspring? Why or why not?

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