The son of famous Holocaust survivor Roman Kent — who died in May — claims his sister tricked their ailing father into cutting him out of inheriting $650,000, new court papers show.
Susan Avjian allegedly took advantage of her dad’s “weakened and vulnerable state” by misleading him and inducing him to remove son Jeffrey Kent as a 50 percent beneficiary on an investment account holding $1.3 million, Jeffrey claims in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The inheritance change “was purportedly executed when [Roman] was in his 90s, was severely impaired (both physically and mentally), strongly medicated, and was being misled, misinformed, and manipulated by Susan and/or others upon whom he relied,” the suit charges.
Kent — a Polish-born Auschwitz survivor and Holocaust activist — died May 22 at age 92 after suffering from congestive heart failure and depression from the death of his wife of over 60 years, the court papers say.
Kent — who helped other survivors get billions in compensation from the German government — had always planned to split his estate equally between his two kids as he laid out in his will, the filing claims.
Roman “left significant assets” to both Susan and Jeffrey including the IRA, an annuity and other bank accounts “all split equally” between the siblings, the suit alleges — but the investment account is the only one from which Jeffrey was cut.
Two years before their father died, Susan “began to take increasing control over [Roman] and his affairs,” the suit alleges.
The 63-year-old daughter changed the locks on Roman’s apartment to “limit Jeffrey’s visits” and to make Roman “more dependent upon Susan,” the court papers claim.
Susan also allegedly closed some of Roman’s checking and savings accounts as well as one of his credit cards in September 2020. And she received power of attorney on Roman’s accounts at two different banks, removing his longtime wealth manager and blocking Jeffrey from accessing them, the filing alleges.
This all while Roman had purposely kept Susan out of his finances “prior to his decline” going as far as refusing “to authorize her to speak with his estate planning attorney or his accountant,” the suit alleges.
Then in February 2021, Jeffrey learned that his sister had made herself the sole beneficiary on her dad’s IRA account prompting the brother to ask his dad about his intentions, the court documents say.
Roman “insisted he made no such change to his IRA, or any other account, and further insisted that the instructions in his Will were clear — that all his accounts would be divided equally among Jeffrey and Susan.”
Roman also mistakenly believed that his will would override any changes of beneficiaries on his accounts, prompting Jeffrey to alert the bank — which froze the account, the court papers claim. In the end, the IRA designated the siblings to split the account.
Roman “lacked the capacity to understand that his will and trust did not govern or override any beneficiary designation,” the filing alleges.
Jeffrey also alerted the bank for his dad’s investment account but it “refused to reject” the change without a court order, the suit claims.
The investment account — which as of April 2021 held $1.3 million — was ultimately left to Susan and “eight new beneficiaries” who are her family members or “connected to Susan in some way” with “Jeffrey being omitted entirely,” the court papers claim.
“This is unequivocally contrary to [Roman’s] estate plan and testamentary wishes,” the suit charges.
Roman “was not a person of sound mind and was incapable of making reasoned, rational decisions and judgments, including decisions and judgments concerning financial matters and the disposition of his assets,” the court papers claim.
Jeffrey is asking a judge to stop any money from being paid out from the investment account. He’s also seeking for himself and Susan to be put back on as equal beneficiaries of the account.
Susan’s lawyer, Laura Brancato, told The Post the allegations are “baseless and false.”
“Susan was a loving and devoted daughter who actively sought to protect her father from the negative influence of Mr. Kent,” Brancato said. “We look forward to our opportunity in court to prove this suit is without merit.”