Surrogate Demanding Overly Aggressive Treatment Loses $3 Million

Albert Joe Beck was the only child of Pearl C. Oppenhorst, and her sole heir pursuant to a 1993 Family Trust. Oppenhorst died from cancer at the age of 94 on March 12, 2008, leaving an estate worth over $3 million. But in an amendment to the trust just weeks before her death, she completely disinherited Beck. "[W]hen Oppenhorst was briefly hospitalized a few weeks before her death, Beck advocated surgery on her despite knowing his mother did not want any 'heroics.' Oppenhorst demanded to be released from the hospital, without surgery, and she was sent home on hospice care. She was extremely upset with her son for trying to force unwanted medical care on her, and that . . . is what prompted her to disinherit him." Indeed, "Beck agreed that when he was told about a 'Do Not Resuscitate Order' for his Mother [that she wanted], he became upset because he did not want his mother to die" (The California courts later invalidated the amendment because Oppenhorst's caregivers misrepresented Beck's actions to her making the amendment the result of undue influence.)

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