Allegations of undue influence in estates normally involve an elderly person who is alleged to have been wrongly influenced by a caretaker into leaving an inheritance for the caretaker. However, those are not the only undue influence cases that are brought, as illustrated by a shocking case in New York.
In 2010, Amy Blumenthal was a successful and wealthy attorney in Texas. She also had undisclosed mental problems that caused her to take a medical leave of absence from her law firm and travel to New York where she started seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Turner.
A few years later, the heavily-medicated Blumenthal passed away. What is alleged to have happened during those years might shock some people. Amy's brother, Randy Blumenthal, has filed a lawsuit alleging that just a few months into therapy, Dr. Turner demanded that Amy begin a sexual relationship with her or get a new therapist. Amy complied and began having a relationship with her psychiatrist.
Not too long after that, Amy slowly began rewriting her estate plan. By the time she passed away all of her estate was designated to pass to Dr. Turner instead of her family. Randy Blumenthal alleges that the doctor unduly influenced his mentally ill and vulnerable sister into giving up her estate. The doctor denies the allegations.
The New York Post reported this story in an article titled "Shrink convinced patient to be her lover, write her into $7M will: docs." You might be wondering why this is not an open and shut case. Is not a therapist entering into a sexual relationship with her patient unethical? The answer is that of course it is, and that will undoubtedly weigh heavily in this case. However, that fact alone does not necessarily mean that Blumenthal was not competent at the time she changed her estate plan in favor of Turner. An inappropriate doctor/patient sexual relationship will be used as strong evidence in favor of undue influence but it might not be the end of the inquiry.
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Reference: New York Post (July 29, 2015) "Shrink convinced patient to be her lover, write her into $7M will: docs."