Years before one Florida woman made major changes to her million-dollar estate, she had been formally diagnosed with dementia. Courtroom documents show the elderly Florida woman’s estate has been beleaguered by probate litigation problems after she agreed to hand over $1.8 million to a Portsmouth police officer, who relatives contend was a scam artist.

A state report dated in April 2012 indicated the woman had significant dementia as early as September 2008. The woman had been repeatedly taken to local physicians, all of whom declared her mentally incompetent to make major decisions. As a result, an investigation is being conducted into whether the police officer had undue influence on the woman’s decision-making when he sought changes to her will in early May 2012.

The vast majority of the woman’s fortune has been signed over to the officer. A vast number of litigants are seeking retribution against the man; however, with multiple individuals and organizations filing suits contesting the provisions of the will. The woman’s mentally disabled grandson, for example, was included in the previous iteration of her will, but was left out of the most recent copy.

Just months before the woman made the estate plan changes, physicians had issued reports indicating she should not live by herself because her dementia was so advanced. The woman was at risk of serious injury because she was unable to make independent decisions. Official documents signed after she was diagnosed leave the police officer the rights to the woman’s home, financial holdings and at least one vehicle. Multiple pieces of evidence confirm the fact that the 94-year-old woman was making sexual comments about a younger police officer, identifying him as her “love.”

The investigation into this case is ongoing.

If you believe a loved one was scammed out of their well-earned holdings by an unethical predator, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified probate attorney. As a family member, you have certain rights in Florida court, and they should be protected by an experienced lawyer.

Luis E. Barreto