In a case that is garnering national attention, a granddaughter is battling her uncle for her inheritance from the late Hudson News founder Robert Cohen. The granddaughter alleges that her uncle, Robert Cohen’s son, exerted undue influence over his father while the elder Cohen was sick. In the last months of his life, Robert Cohen had a neurological disease that left him unable to communicate clearly. The granddaughter argues that her uncle convinced the sickly man to give him part of the business, which eventually sold for over $800 million. She also states that her uncle manipulated Robert Cohen into adjusting his will and essentially eliminating her large inheritance.
Part of the will contest involves whether the Cohen’s disease prevented him from thinking clearly or was capable of making his own decisions but was simply unable to articulate his thoughts. Recent testimony from a speech therapist who treated Cohen for over five years revealed that she was always able to ascertain what the man was trying to say, regardless of how difficult it was for him to speak. This supports the views of the son’s attorneys, who claim that Robert Cohen was always able to communicate and clearly intended to hand the company over to his son.
On the other hand, attorneys for the granddaughter revealed that the speech therapist was not present when Cohen changed his will. She was, therefore, unable to comment on whether or not Cohen’s son unlawfully influenced his father during the will’s preparation.
The testimony from this therapist seems to give Cohen’s son the advantage. However, just because the speech therapist was able to determine what Cohen was trying to say on a regular basis, it does not necessarily follow that Cohen was not susceptible to his son’s alleged manipulation. Further testimony will likely be needed before either side has a fully-established argument.
Source: northjersey.com, “Speech therapist testifies in Cohen family estate suit” Kibret Markos, Dec. 11, 2013