HAYS, Kan. (AP) – A judge has ruled that a purported updated will from a Kansas multimillionaire was not valid and the man’s former caretaker will not receive most of his $21 million estate.
The Hutchinson News reports (http://bit.ly/1sOy4S1 ) this week’s ruling by Kansas Senior Judge William Lyle Jr. is a victory for the Fort Hays State University Foundation, the primary beneficiary of the estate of 98-year-old Earl O. Field, of Hays.
Field’s former caretaker, Wanda Oborny said she found a letter typed on Field’s stationary after his death. She says the letter said Field decided to give most of his estate to her, rather than to the foundation.
Steve and Kathy Little, of Hays, who said they witnessed Field sign the new will, died in a murder-suicide in August 2015.
The Fort Hays State University Foundation statement:
When longtime donor and fan of Fort Hays State University, Earl O. Field, passed away in 2013, the FHSU Foundation was surprised to learn of the existence of a purported change to Mr. Field’s estate plan that dropped the nonprofit Fort Hays State University Foundation as Mr. Field’s primary beneficiary. This purported change was in the form of a letter, supposedly discovered after Mr. Field’s death, that gifted the largest portion of the estate to Wanda Oborny, part-time bookkeeper and caretaker for the widower Field.
The mission of the Fort Hays State University Foundation is to support and advance the university by actively seeking monetary gifts and bequests and to receive and administer those contributions in a prudent manner in accordance with donors’ wishes. Consistent with that mission, the FHSU Foundation felt that, in this particular case, Earl Field’s estate plan and intentions were not as Ms. Oborny claimed. The FHSU Foundation contested the purported change to Mr. Field’s estate plan and letter sponsored by Ms. Oborny.
“On June 1, 2016, the Ellis County District Court Kansas Senior Judge adopted the Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law proposed by the Fort Hays State University Foundation,” said Jeff Peier, Chair of the Fort Hays State University Foundation Board of Trustees. “We are pleased with the findings of the Court and believe that this ruling validates the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to protect the integrity of our donors’ wishes.”