When Geraldine Webber, who was then 91 years old, drew up her will in 2009, she left her disabled grandson, Brett Webber, $25,000. But when the Portsmouth, N.H., woman died last December, she had a whole new will.
Brett was not named in the new will. Nor were several others who were included in the 2009 version endorsed by the elderly woman. Instead, most of her $1.8 million estate went to a local police officer, Sgt. Aaron Goodwin, who had befriended the woman, helping her get through a dispute with the estate lawyer who drew up her 2009 will.
Webber (pictured right) developed “great respect and appreciation” for Goodwin (pictured left), says Gary Holmes, the lawyer who created the will that benefits Goodwin. She decided to leave the bulk of her estate to him “to show her gratitude for his ongoing friendship.”
But Webber’s previous attorney, James Ritzo, says that Webber suffered from dementia and that Goodwin took advantage of her diminsihed condition her to win her inheritance. Ritzo filed those allegations against Goodwin with state officials in New Hampshire, as well as with the local police. But they all cleared Goodwin.
Portsmouth police say that Goodwin was just doing a really good job and shouldn’t be penalized for that.
"Goodwin engaged in the type of community policing that we encourage our officers to engage in on a daily basis," the police department said, in new court documents filed by Holmes.
Ritzo charged that Goodwin “romanced” the nanogenarian woman, who according to a doctor experienced “mild dementia” that caused her to lack “capacity to engage in complex business decisions.”
Ritzo alleged that Goodwin took Webber out for drinks and to gamble in casinos. The attorney alleged that the police officer went to at least four lawyers looking for one to draft a new will for Webber, before he found Holmes.
The will is said to leave Goodwin the elderly woman’s riverfront home and everything in it, as well as her stocks and bonds.
Goodwin denies doing anything improper in his friendship with Webber.
Paul McEachern, lawyer for Brett Webber, says that legally, the grandson must be named in the will, even if it is to leave him nothing. But his name appears nowhere in the document, McEachern says.
SOURCES: Sea Coast Online (2)