19 Sep

Can You Trust Your Doctor with Your Will?

Manya Deva Natan
Manya Deva Natan is a California Bar Certified attorney with the law firm of SSS Legal & Consultancy Services located in Calabasas, CA. Her practice focuses on International Estates, Trusts and Estates, Asset Protection, Trust Administration, and more. Manya received her law degree from Stanford University, as well as a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University. She has completed extensive course-work and training in the areas of mental, physical, and emotional health, including being a published author. She is the founder of two publishing-based companies related to health and wellness and has particular interest in the legal and financial components of health and their importance in integrated health. She has appeared multiple times on Good Morning America and is regularly contacted by national media outlets for commentary.
Manya Deva Natan

Doctor/PatientDoctors are normally viewed as trustworthy. We trust them with our lives. A lawsuit in New York suggests that it might not be wise to trust those same doctors with our estate plans.


An article in The New York Post, titled “Doctor wrote himself into 102-year-old patient’s will: suit,” tells the story of a lawsuit recently filed in New York. Helen Schlesinger is 102 years old and has assets worth millions of dollars. In 2003, she wrote a will leaving the bulk of her estate to her friend, Donna Spears, and an unnamed family member. Spears has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Lawson Moyer. She alleges that after he began caring for Schlesinger, Moyer rewrote her will. The new will allegedly gives Spears only $25,000. It also leaves $100,000 to Moyer with the remainder to be distributed to charities.


Beyond the headline-catching parts this is a very common scenario, if not the most common scenario, in disputes over estates.


It is often alleged that the caregiver of an elderly person has induced the elderly person to rewrite his or her estate plan in the caregiver’s favor. Sometimes, that turns out to be exactly what happened. However, it is also not uncommon for an elderly person to want to rewrite his or her estate plan to leave money to a caregiver without any wrongdoing having been done. The issue is a difficult one for courts to sort out.


Anytime that you rewrite your estate plan, you should have the advice of an independent estate planning attorney. That will lessen the likelihood that someone will be able to dispute it successfully in the future.

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