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Construction Giant’s Numerous Will Changes Cause Chaos with Children

When five adopted children of a late Tennessee construction CEO, J. Don Brock, contested his will last fall, they claimed their stepmother schemed to remove them from the massive family estate.

But a Tennessee county judge disagreed with them and dismissed the adopted children’s lawsuit, saying they didn’t have standing to contest the 2013 will because they don’t receive anything from a previous will executed in 2012. That’s according to a report in the Chattanooga Times Free-Press entitled “Brock estate battle lives on as attorneys argue Astec founder’s will.”

An old State Supreme Court decision essentially means the five adopted children have no standing to contest the second will (2013) because they don’t gain anything from the first (2012). But the children’s attorneys disagree and plan to appeal.

“How do we challenge the standing if we can’t get the court to look at any wills beyond 2012?” the children’s attorney asked.

Brock created numerous wills over the years that exclude the children at different times, according to the exhibits filed in court. In 1994, one of the five adopted children, Walter, was excluded, and in 1998, another son, Darryl, found himself in the same spot. Brock’s 2006 will is the same but also leaves kids Jennifer, Melissa, and Krystal $800,000 apiece. But in 2012 and 2013, they’re all excluded.

The kids’ attorneys plan to appeal the ruling because the previous wills show undue influence and how the children were to receive less and less each time.

The five adopted children filed this lawsuit claiming they were unaware they’d been disinherited from their father’s will until after his death. They said that their copies of the will weren’t delivered by hand but mailed, and Walter Brock’s notice never arrived. They contest the current will, disputing the authenticity of their father’s signature: the only witnesses present for the will signing were company employees or officers who had a financial interest in the company, the suit said.

The lawsuit also alleges that their father’s second wife—and former secretary—joined forces with two of her children from a previous marriage (Brock’s other adopted children) and a co-executor to remove them from the 2013 will. Records show that these four other children were included in the will. The children allege in their lawsuit that this scheme was carried out when Brock lacked the requisite capacity, given his intense cancer treatments which compromised his mental and physical capacities.

Reference: (Chattanooga) Times Free-Press (February 5, 2016) “Brock estate battle lives on as attorneys argue Astec founder’s will”

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