We hear a number of stories about supposed verbal agreements made promising money and property to an individual, agreements that rarely holding 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 them 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.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. 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.