Multiple wills left by an 88-year-old Nebraska woman lend to the confusion around a criminal case in Lincoln against a former public-address announcer for the Huskers. The attorney for the 50-year-old man, Patrick Combs, says that he was essentially an "adopted son" to the woman and her husband, who had no children.
In the woman's final will, dated November 2014, she left her entire estate to him. That's the month that he became her power of attorney.
Three previous versions of the will, however, included multiple beneficiaries. Combs was always one of them. The former announcer, whose contract with the University of Nebraska expired last summer, is facing multiple felony charges involving financial abuse and taking over $360,000 from the woman.
This is not the first time he's been accused of such crimes. He's also facing charges in Lancaster County for unlawfully taking money from an elderly woman with Alzheimer's disease in the year prior to her death in June 2015. He also had been named her power of attorney. He's accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from her and attempting to take another $1.75 million.
For the most part, Combs doesn't deny accessing the women's money. However, he says that they gave him the authority to do so.
There are a lot of estate planning lessons to be learned here, both for those making a will and for their family members. It's essential to have just one valid will. Whenever a will is changed, there's a correct legal process for invalidating all previous wills.
Further, if you have an elderly loved one, regardless of whether or not they're of sound mind, it's essential to ensure that no one, even another family member, is taking advantage of them or "helping" them make changes to their estate planning documents. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance and advice.
Source: Omaha World-Herald, "Lawyer says ex-Husker P.A. announcer was 'adopted son' to woman he's accused of stealing from," Emily Nohr, May 05, 2016