Children Settle Will Contest with Stepmom

Posted on Oct 22, 2014 in News

Stepmom-Widow alleged to have forged Testator-spouse’s signature on Will

Two adult children of a Polk County, North Carolina man  settled a case challenging the validity of their father’s will.

The children had suspicions that the Stepmom forged their father’s signature on his will, which was purportedly executed in late November 2012, seven months prior to his unexpected death.

The children pursued the will contest litigation to set aside the will by filing a will caveat in Polk County Superior Court.

With the challenge being the signature was forged, this is an example of a Sham Will. Sham Wills are distinguished from other Will Caveats in that the contest is over whether the will was even executed by the testator. Other types of will caveats include challenges based on the testator’s capacity (eg. competency) or undue influence.

A caveat proceeding is different from a common civil action in that the caveat challenges the validity of the will. If litigation is over the distribution of assets from an estate or confusion over the language of the will, that is separate type of case.

The probated will of the testator, Burton Baer, left the children $250,000 each. So the challenged will did not totally exclude the children. However, per the challenged will, the Stepmom would receive the rest of the estate, which was valued at between $650,000 and $750,000. Plus, the Stepmom would receive $200,000 from Mr. Burton’s various accounts along with $60,000 worth of personal property.

The testator met the widow, Anelie Baer, on an online dating service called in May of 2011. They married 3 months later in August.

The attorney for the children stated  “Our clients had a bad feeling about the will that was probated.” “It just didn’t pass the smell test.”

The Will Contest litigation was settled whereby the Stepmom would give up her interests in return for the children not pursuing her interest in non-probate accounts. The Stepmom didn’t turn over information on the accounts, but it is guessed to be in the six-figures.

Non-probate assets include financial accounts that have paid on death a/k/a transfer on death beneficiaries. Many times these financial accounts, such as IRA’s and brokerage accounts, can pass more value to beneficiaries than the will and estate.


Case name: In the matter of the will of Burton Baer

Date of settlement: Aug. 1, 2013

Amount: Approximately $1 million in assets

Kirk Sanders is an estate and trust litigation attorney in NC. Call 336-768-1515