Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, March 9, 2020

East Grand Forks Woman Sues Lawyer, Claiming he Redrafted her Husband's Will to Leave Millions to Foundation on Whose Board he Serves

WillRandy Driscoll passed away on December 7, 2015 after a five year struggle with leukemia and culminated in a failed bone marrow transplant. Shortly after his diagnosis he drafted a will that left his long-time wife, Cindy, $2.4 million of his estate and a Grand Forks farm property that had been in his family for more than six generations to his nephews. But a month before his death - while on chemotherapy and 60 medications - Cindy claims that her husband's attorney, Gerard Neil, advised her and her husband to sign an unknown document, believing they dealt with the estate's taxes.

Randy had appointed his brother, Bruce, as his personal representative, and he was called in for a meeting with Neil after Randy's death. That was when Bruce found out nearly all of the $5 million estate had been left to the Sacred Heart Church in East Grand Forks, where Randy had not been a member. The non-profit had been incorporated in May 2014 with Neil listed as the registered agent and currently sits on the board of directors. Bruce was shocked and asked if anything could be done, and he claims Neil told him no, and did not explain the process of a will contestation.

Instead of $2.4 million, Cindy received a rifle and pistols, use of the house, items of personal property and grounds-keeping equipment during her lifetime, income of $54,000 per year, up to $5,000 per year for a vacation and full-coverage health insurance, in total valuing about $300,000. After a lawsuit against Sacred Heart Church that ended with a dismissal, Cindy is now attacking the attorney head on, suing him for malpractice, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and other allegations, and is demanding $700,000 in damages.

See Hannah Shirley, East Grand Forks Woman Sues Lawyer, Claiming he Redrafted her Husband's Will to Leave Millions to Foundation on Whose Board he Serves, Grand Forks Herald, March 8, 2020.

Special thanks to Carissa Peterson (Hrbacek Law Firm, Sugar Land, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.


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