An attorney testified Wednesday that he found no rules in the Oklahoma Veteran Department’s handbook to prevent seven workers from accepting bequests from the estate of a resident at the Norman Veterans Center. The longtime employees were fired in 2013, more than three years after veteran Bill Marshall died, leaving the workers some money in his will.

When gifting and company policies collide, the rules can be hard to decipher on what’s fair for those types of bequests.

A man who lived in a Norman, Oklahoma veterans center left six center employees gifts in his will, likely attempting to thank the employees for their kindness and companionship. The employees were fired for accepting the gifts, despite the fact that the director of the veterans facility said that they could do so without repercussion. However, when a new director came in and found out about the gifts, the employees were fired.

The employees are suing for their jobs back.

The veterans center has a policy that employees cannot accept gifts from patients. The employees argue that since the gifts were by will, the man was no longer a resident at the time that the gifts were made. Recently, the general counsel for Oklahoma’s Veterans Department testified that he could find no provision in the rules that would prevent the employees from accepting the gifts.

The Norman Transcripthas the full story in Attorney testifies handbook doesn’t prevent veterans center workers from accepting bequests.”

This is not an unusual problem at long term care facilities.

Residents often do grow close to employees and want to leave them something. The lesson to be learned is that before rewriting your will, you should consult with the facility and an experienced estate planning attorney to see if policy allows you to leave anything to facility employees.

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