A Hackensack courtroom was the scene of the latest episode in the long running legal battle over the estate of Robert Cohen. Mr. Cohen’s granddaughter claims that her uncle James Cohen, the son of the founder of Hudson News, exercised undue influence over her grandfather in the waning years of his life, causing him to change the will in such a way that James seized control of the estate and family business and left her disinherited. She has retained the services of two expert witnesses to help make her case.
The testimony of these two witnesses, neither of whom ever met Cohen, is at the center of this attempt to contest the probate.The witnesses are expected to testify about transactions that resulted in the transfer of a large portion of the family business to James, transactions that it has been claimed that Robert did not fully understand.
Mr. Cohen’s son refutes the claim that his father was mentally unsound. He won a similar case previously, when Robert Cohen’s son-in-law brought a suit claiming that Cohen’s daughter (the current plaintiff’s mother) had been disinherited. James’position is that the witnesses are not qualified to give an opinion about his motives or state of mind.
It is not unusual for a large estate to be contested by those who feel it was not distributed fairly. This becomes even more likely if a will was change shortly before death. A family member who feels that he or she may have been unfairly treated may wish to consult with an attorney with experience in will contests and probate administration. Such an attorney may be able to advise such a client as to available methods of resolution.
Source: NorthJersey.com, “Experts to testify in Perelman-Cohen estate suit”, Kibret Markos , September 19, 2013