When San Antonio businessman and philanthropist Leo Block, 94, died at home Aug. 31, 2009, he left behind a new wife, at least $15 million in assets and troubling questions about the last chapter of his life.
Among the uncertainties were why the confirmed bachelor had married suddenly late in life without telling his family and why he — or others — had quickly begun making radical changes in his will, estate plan and investments.
Also unclear was how he met Erma Holman, 71, a local bail bond company owner whom he married in July 2008, and Stephen Boyd, a lawyer who twice was disciplined for ethical lapses in the late 1990s.
Some answers are emerging in bitter litigation in Bexar County Probate Court No. 1, where in November 2009 Block family members filed suit, accusing Erma Holman Block, Boyd and others of fleecing a muddled old man.
“Sadly, by the time of his death, Leo Block had truly become the ‘poster child' for elder abuse and exploitation,” reads the lawsuit filed by Block's sister Betty Simmons and her two children, who until 2008 had stood to inherit almost all of Block's wealth.
Their suit seeks to overturn Leo Block's final will, created just months after his wedding, which gave the bulk of his assets to Erma Block and three charities.
It claims that soon after the marriage, Boyd and Erma Block began to “strip” Leo Block of his wealth while isolating him from his family.
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'Gloves are Off' in Estate Battle