We hear a number of stories about supposed verbal agreements made promising money and property to an individual, agreements that rarely hold up in court. We, personally, see this most often in the probate courts due to the nature of our practice. When contesting an individuals Will, many people claim that “he promised me the house would be mine” or “she said that when she died, I would inherit her retirement account.” Unfortunately, most of these claims were never documented, and without signed agreements, the judge will rarely agree to honor the supposed arrangements.
Such a circumstance happened in the case of actor Marlon Brando. Brando’s chief assistant and homemaker, Angela Borlaza, filed a lawsuit against his estate claiming that the actor purchased the home she was living in for her but chose to keep it in his name for tax purposes. She also claims he promised her continued employment in a company he owned. Borlaza states that she was locked out of Brando’s room in the days before his death in order for his producer and others to coerce his signature on the Will. This Will gives them the right to develop his Tahitian estate into a tourist attraction.
Through the lawsuit, Borlaza sought $627,000 (the market value of the Winnetka home she claims Brando bought for her) and $2 million in damages. However, she settled for only $125,000.
Borlaza continues to insist she was telling the truth and that Brando’s signature on his will is a forgery – despite handwriting experts saying it was a match. We may never know what the truth was since Brando never created the proper documents to enforce Borlaza’s claims. This is a reminder to us all that verbal agreements are not legally binding and need to be enforced with the proper documents.
If you would like to learn more about proper estate planning, contact our office at 888.222.1328.
Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.