Archive for the ‘Will’ Category

"I Made a Small Change"

July 31, 2013

Tara Wilson

Attorney Tara Wilson of Andover, MA, had many of her own estate planning documents in order. But after her grandmother fell ill at 84 and her relatives disagreed on her care, the court appointed a stranger as guardian, overruling her grandmother’s wishes.

“The guardian kept her from her loved ones, put a reverse mortgage on her house, moved her to a nursing home and squandered her savings. From all this I learned that I needed to name a second and third choice for healthcare proxy and power of attorney, and add a provision to my will that the court is not to appoint anyone else to represent the interests of my children. And I keep my will up to date.”

Full Article and Source:
“I Made a Small Change”

Millions of Administrative Expenses in Peter Karoly Will Dispute

June 1, 2013

In the end, lawyers could end up with most of the money in the bitterly contested estates of Allentown medical malpractice attorney Peter Karoly and his wife, Dr. Lauren Angstadt.

During six years of legal limbo, the estates have racked up $3.74 million in administrative and other costs, leaving roughly $3 million remaining in the late couple’s legacy, according to Philip Lauer, an attorney for two of the beneficiaries.

And those expenses don’t even count the legal bills that the beneficiaries incurred to hire Lauer and others for a bruising civil court fight over Karoly’s and Angstadt’s wills.

“Does it seem like a lot of money? Yes,” Lauer acknowledged. The estates, he said, “have been reduced in value at a pretty phenomenal rate on an annual basis.”

An attorney on the losing side of the disputed wills put it more bluntly.

“Oh my God, I’m just blown away,” Richard Angino said. “In a case where individuals have the responsibility of liquidating the assets of the estate, the purpose isn’t to liquidate those assets into your pocket.”

When Karoly and Angstadt were killed in 2007 in a private plane crash in Massachusetts, they left behind a tangled financial web that included a law practice, a dental practice, real estate holdings and several medical businesses in South Carolina. Amid a contentious battle among relatives over their wealth, the court appointed retired Lehigh County Judge Thomas Wallitsch to administer Karoly’s estate, and attorney Harry Newman to administer Angstadt’s.

Full Article and Source:
In Karoly Will Dispute, Millions in Administrative Expenses

See also:
Wills John Karoly Filed for Brother’s Estate are Held up in Court

Peter Karoly  Estate Now in Judge’s Hands

Northhampton County Judge Upholds Karoly Will

Karoly Sisters Blast Findings in Multi-Million Dollar Will Dispute

Witness:  John Karoly Asked Me to Sign ‘Fake Will’

Witness of Disputed Karoly Will Not Sure What He Signed

Witness:  John Caroly Made ‘Ludicrois” Claims About Late Brother’s Intentions

CT Probate Judge Seeks to Remove Daughter From Control of Slain Mother’s Estate

May 10, 2013

East Hartford’s probate judge wants to remove Candace Bednarz as fiduciary of her slain mother’s estate, now that Bednarz has been arrested on charges of tampering with evidence and hindering the prosecution the man police say killed her mother.

Probate Judge Allan Driscoll has scheduled a hearing on the matter for May 14 at the East Hartford Probate Court in town hall. Driscoll also is seeking a report on the status of Beverly Therrien’s estate.

Driscoll made the move after learning of the arrest of Bednarz, 54, of Manchester. She posted $150,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned May 8 in Superior Court in Manchester.

Bednarz’s brother, Brett Bednarz, is awaiting trial on charges that he killed his 74-year-old mother, along with Pamela Johns, 60, and Michael Ramsey, 53, who were staying with Therrien at her home at 154 Naomi Drive home on Thanksgiving 2010.

Driscoll, at the request of the state victim advocate, already has ruled that there will be no disbursements from Therrien’s estate, except to creditors.

No will was found in Therrien’s home in the aftermath of her killing, and Driscoll ruled that a 2006 copy of her will was not valid. In the 2006 will, Therrien named Brett Bednarz as executor and primary beneficiary of her estate. Therrien specifically excluded Candace Bednarz from receiving anything from the estate.

“I intentionally make no provisions herein for the benefit of my daughter as there is no relationship between my daughter and me and I have provided money to her in the past to provide for herself and her daughter,” the will says. “Additionally, she has sufficient assets with which to support herself.”

Full Article and Source:
East Hartford Probate Judge Seeks to Remove Candice Bednarz From Control of Mother’s Estate

Nurse’s Assistant Charged With Taking $350K From Client’s Estate

April 8, 2013

Retired city engineer Marshall Davies was nearing 90 when a longtime nursing assistant at St. Joseph Hospital befriended him in 2007 and offered to be his round-the-clock caregiver.

Instead, Cook County prosecutors allege, Carmelita Pasamba obtained power of attorney over Davies’ estate and bilked him out of more than $350,000, using the money to remodel her home, enrich family members and buy a new Mercedes.

Davies had been diagnosed with dementia almost a year before Pasamba began to take advantage of him, prosecutors said.

Pasamba, 62, who worked for 15 years as a nursing assistant at St. Joseph, was charged with financial exploitation of a senior citizen, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said Friday. She was held on a $350,000 cash bail.

Also charged were Pasamba’s sister, Jocelyn Vargas Baker, 47, and husband, Edgardo Pasamba, 63, both of whom benefited from her actions, prosecutors said.

The criminal case stems from a 2011 lawsuit filed by Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris accusing Pasamba of using her position to take advantage of the ailing Davies.
Pasamba, a native of the Philippines, met Davies in January 2008 when he was hospitalized for a hip injury and she cared for him. When he was discharged later that month, Davies needed at-home care and Pasamba offered to work for him, prosecutors said. She also hired her daughter and her sister to help provide 24-hour assistance.

Three months after she began his at-home care, Pasamba hired an attorney affiliated with the Filipino community to draft a power-of-attorney order, a will and a trust document that gave her control over Davies’ assets. She made her husband the executor of the will and named herself as trustee, prosecutors said. Her family and charities affiliated with her attorney were listed as the main beneficiaries of the trust, according to the charges.

Within two months of gaining power of attorney, Pasamba wrote herself checks from the estate totaling $55,000, prosecutors charged.

Pasamba eventually sold Davies’ Lincoln Park condo for $189,000 but kept $50,000 as a “bonus” for herself, prosecutors said. Over the course of 31/2 years, she also paid herself $170,000 in salary for Davies’ care, prosecutors said.

Alphonso Bascos, the lawyer who drafted the power-of-attorney documents, told the Tribune on Friday that Davies seemed lucid on the day he signed the papers, answering yes whenever he was asked directly if he wanted Pasamba to have power over his affairs.

“I asked Mr. Davies if he read the document, if he understood it, and he said, ‘Yes,'” said Bascos, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing. “I did what he asked me to do.”

Bascos said that it was Pasamba’s idea to name several of his preferred Filipino charities as beneficiaries of the estate. He said he heard her explain the idea to Davies and get his approval.
Bascos said he was “surprised and mad” when he learned about the alleged thefts more than two years later.

“But everything I did was aboveboard,” he said. “… I followed the instructions of a client, nothing else.”

Full Article and Source:
Nurse’s Assistant Charged With Taking $350K From Client’s Estate

Justice at Last for Disinherited Caretaker, Sam Manzo!

March 27, 2013

It has taken too long for justice to prevail — 3 1/2 years.

The arc of history is finally bending toward justice in the case of Sam Manzo and the valuable but ramshackle farm he stands to inherit in Southington. 

This past week, a Superior Court judge hearing Mr. Manzo’s appeal of a Southington probate court order removed what is probably the last significant roadblock between Mr. Manzo and his rightful inheritance.

Now the case goes to Hartford Probate Judge Robert Killian to resolve the few remaining questions. Surely the erudite, experienced Judge Killian can wrap up the case — which has been an ugly sore on the probate system — with dispatch.

The farm was the property of Josephine Smoron, who died at 92 on June 20, 2009. Ms. Smoron wanted Mr. Manzo, her longtime caretaker, to have the farm — and especially her beloved cows. She said so, specifically, in two wills.

But while Ms. Smoron lay dying in a nursing home, a probate judge who would later be censured by the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct and a lawyer who was castigated by the Statewide Grievance Committee ignored the old lady’s wishes and sought to hustle Mr. Manzo out of his eventual inheritance.

The probate judge, Bryan Meccariello, expressed doubts about Mr. Manzo’s ability to take care of Ms. Smoron as she declined and wondered whether the caretaker was putting his own interests first. He terminated Mr. Manzo’s conservatorship of Ms. Smoron.

Mr. Meccariello then allowed the lawyer, John Nugent, who became Ms. Smoron’s conservator, to set up two trusts, transfer her assets into them and name others to be the beneficiaries — putting the farm beyond Mr. Manzo’s reach. Mr. Nugent wanted the Smoron farm sold to a developer.

It was a brazen scheme. But Superior Court Judge William H. Bright, who heard Mr. Manzo’s appeal of the Southington probate court order setting up the trusts, would have none of it.

Full Article and Source:
Justice at Last for Disinherited Caretaker

See Also:
Panel Rules AGainst Lawyer in Smoron Probate Case

Yucaipa woman, 101, battling for home over handwritten deed

March 19, 2013

YUCAIPA – Lois Risse, 101, stands hunched over in her front yard, attacking weeds and dandelions with a hoe.

Then she bends at the waist, picks up the plants and places them in a cardboard box beside her metal walker. As she progresses west across the yard, she hooks the box with the garden tool and pulls it closer to her, straying farther and farther from her walker.

The only help she allows from her caregiver is emptying the contents of the box into a garbage bin, and bringing her walker over when it is time to go inside – into a house she no longer owns.

Risse, her neighbors and legal representatives say many people have taken advantage of the petite woman with bright blue eyes since the passing of her husband, William Risse, on Sept. 18, 1982.

“It’s hard to believe there are such thieves,” Risse said.

In January 1983, four months after her husband died, Risse sold the couple’s ranch-style home in southeast Yucaipa via a handwritten deed. Cursive writing chronicles the sale: $60,000 for the home and $4,500 for its contents to a family friend, Glenn Neff.

Two years later, in January 1985, another paragraph was added to the deed. It said Neff paid in full with ownership to be recorded upon Risse’s death. It was signed again by Risse and Neff on Jan. 1, 1985, then notarized on March 29, 1985.

Neither party can produce receipts of payment.

“He never paid me a dime,” Risse said Thursday while sitting on a backless chair inside the home.

Neff had been friends with William and Lois Risse since the 1960s. Now 72, he lives nearly 400 miles from Risse in Walker, southeast of Lake Tahoe.

Risse gave him two years to pay off the house, he said in a phone interview.

“When I bought the house from Lois, I would pay her cash,” Neff said. “She kept track of everything. I just sold a piece of property so I could have paid her (in full). I paid her something each month until it was paid off in two years.”

He also said he orally agreed to let Risse remain in the Yucaipa home until her death, as long as she paid the taxes, utilities and insurance.

“I told Lois – and it’s not on paper – but I told Lois she could live in that house as long as she wanted,” Neff said.

On Wednesday night, Neff said he still plans to continue to stick to that statement, even though he broke an agreement written in the deed not to record it until after her death.

Full Article & Source:
Yucaipa woman, 101, battling for home over handwritten deed

Ohio Resident Questions Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Integrity

December 26, 2012

I am copying below three e-mails which I received from representatives of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) concerning the reason why the CFPB’s “privacy attorneys” blackened out what it did from the material which the CFPB now posts online at!documentDetail;D=CFPB-2012-0018-1047.

You can easily determine exactly what these attorneys blackened out by comparing pages 3 and 5 of the redacted version posted by the CFPB to the same pages of the unredacted version which I post online at http:\\\~tvfields\UnredactedCFPBSubmission.pdf.

By making this comparison, you can verify the following:
• NOT redacted from page 3 is the reference to my father by the line which reads “The second example is represented by the page copied below from the medical record of my father.”
• NOT redacted from page 5 are the signatures of my father, Dr. Steinmetz, Nurse Nemeth and Dr. Sonneborn.
• What was redacted includes (1) the mention of an attorney’s involvement, (2) the mention of the attorney’s relationship to the parties, (3) the identity of Boca Raton Community Hospital, (4) all references to the fact that the patient was on a morphine drip, under a Do Not Resuscitate order, and just hours from dying of cancer.
• What remains after the redaction leaves false impressions about what was redacted. For example, it leads some people to wrongly suppose that what was redacted on page 5 was filed with the court as the patient’s Will and then contested as such. It leads others to wrongly suppose that the patient had not made out and saved his Will before these notes were entered into the medical record.

Considering what was and was not redacted, I have concluded that, contrary to the reason given in these e-mails, the redactions were NOT to protect the personal privacy of others.

To make this point even clearer, I post online at http:\\\~tvfields\ReasonableRedactions.pdf what these redacted pages might have looked like if the purpose of the redaction was just to protect the personal privacy of others.
~ Tom Fields

—– E-Mails Received from the CFPB —–
From: 7:42 PM
Subject: RE: Update re. Request for Congressman LaTourette’s Assistance

Mr. Fields — Thank you for sharing this email with our office. It appears that you unfortunately may not have received the subsequent email that we sent to you, which explains that the information you requested be posted contains confidential information. Todd Vanlaere, who is posting the comments, offered to post your comment without the confidential information if you wish to resend it to him. Again, he can be reached at:

We are attaching our previous email for your reference.

Thank you again for contacting the Ombudsman’s Office, CFPB Ombudsman’s Office
Tel: 855 830 7880 (Toll-free)
Fax: 202 435 7888

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2012 3:54 PM
Subject: RE: Request for Clarification

Dear Mr. Fields:

I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that I’ve received your email, and I am aware of your concerns about your submission. Your concerns are being addressed and I anticipate that I will be able to post your submission soon, but please advised that there will be some redaction. If you’d like me to send you the final redacted version of what our privacy attorneys clear to post prior to posting it, I’m happy to do so.


From: []
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2012 9:20 AM
Subject: re. Request for Clarification

Dear Mr. Fields:

I have attached a redacted copy of what you have submitted to us. As a matter of policy, we redact comments that discuss individuals other than the commenter to protect their personal privacy. Therefore, as you can see, a lot of your document has been redacted. Per your request, I will not post anything for public viewing until you approve it.


CT: Probate Fight Over Southington Farm Continues

December 12, 2012

In a nearly empty courtroom in Hartford on Monday, a half-dozen lawyers continued to fight over the dying wishes of a Southington woman who wanted to give her farm to the man who helped her care for the place for decades.

Incredibly, Sam Manzo, the caretaker, is still the loser in the Smoron Farm controversy. He lives in an unheated trailer on a farm he was supposed to inherit three years ago.

Instead of the probate court system making sure Manzo inherited the farm – what Josephine Smoron explicitly stated in her 2004 will – the controversy drags on, bouncing about dreary courtrooms, waiting for a judge to take charge and right a monumental wrong.

“My client is in desperate need to have this go forward,” Eliot Gersten, one of Manzo’s lawyers, told Superior Court Judge William H. Bright on Monday morning, complaining that bills aren’t getting paid. “This delay is hurting my client. He is living without heat.”

The case has landed in Judge Bright’s courtroom because the man appointed as conservator for Smoron, Southington lawyer John Nugent, has refused to step aside and admit his error. Nugent still controls two trusts that he set up in 2009 — unbeknownst to the dying Smoron or Manzo — that contain the estate’s assets.

The plan might have gone unchallenged if Manzo hadn’t complained to court authorities, who eventually ruled that Nugent abused his position as conservator. The Southington probate judge who appointed him, Bryan Meccariello, was censured by the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct for allowing Nugent to set up the trusts, which circumvent Smoron’s will. Meccariello did not run for re-election in 2010.

The trusts remain, and efforts to restore Manzo’s inheritance have stalled.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Fight Over Southington Farm Continues

See Also:
Rick Green: Probate Court Mess Continues

Mayoral Blitz Over Clark Estate

November 30, 2012

It was a loud, high-profile stage whisper designed to get the attention of 15 competing teams of attorneys fighting 3,000 miles away over an estate worth an estimated $400 million. Santa Barbara’s current mayor Helene Schneider showed up at a press conference with former mayor (and current planning commissioner) Sheila Lodge to express their mutual concern that Santa Barbara’s interest was getting lost in the very high-octane shuffle over the two wills recluse heiress Huguette Clark wrote within weeks of each other.

In the second will, Clark left her 23-acre Santa Barbara estate that fronts the Pacific Ocean across from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge — named after her older sister — to an entity named the Bellosguardo Foundation, which she stipulated would be dedicated to the promotion of the arts. Backing the two mayors — in spirit if not body — was former mayor and arts advocate Hal Conklin, as well as an impressive array of big monied movers and shakers who’ve donated generously to the arts in Santa Barbara over the years, like Michael and Anne Towbes, Leslie Ridley-Tree, Robert Emmons, and Sarah Miller McCune. Clark died last May at age 104, having spent the last 22 years of her life living in a New York City hospital.

That second will has been challenged in court by about 20 of Clark’s distant relatives, upset that they’d been totally cut out compared to a will she’d written six weeks prior. They’ve argued that Clark — who’d amassed a world-class collection of paintings, not to mention a $3 million collection of dolls — had been unduly influenced by her nurse, her attorney, and her accountant, all of whom she took care of handsomely in the second will. (In the previous will, Clark gave her nurse $5 million and split most of the rest among relatives. In the second, she gave the nurse $30 million, her relatives nothing, and her foundation the rest.) Schneider and Lodge expressed concern that the warring factions, now in settlement talks, might arrive at a deal that ignores Santa Barbara’s legitimate claim on Clark’s generosity. Her Bellosguardo estate — and the collection it holds — would provide Santa Barbara a priceless attraction. “In the 3,000 pages of depositions that have been taken, there’s not one indication that she was not competent,” stated Lodge.

Full Article and Source:
Mayoral Blitz Over Clark Estate

Pair Suspended as Executors of Huguette Clark’s Will

Will dispute prevents burial of Sherman Hemsley

September 2, 2012

EL PASO, Texas — The embalmed body of actor Sherman Hemsley, who became famous for his role as television’s George Jefferson, will be kept in refrigeration at an El Paso funeral home until a local court rules on the validity of his will.

In the will Hemsley signed six weeks before dying of lung cancer July 24 he named Flora Enchinton, 56, whom he called a “beloved partner,” as sole beneficiary of his estate, which is estimated in court documents to be more than $50,000.

The will is being contested by Richard Thornton, of Philadelphia, who claims to be Hemsley’s brother and says the will might not have been made by the actor.

Enchinton told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she had been friends with Hemsley and had been his manager for more than 20 years. Over the time she, Hemsley and Hemsley’s friend Kenny Johnston, 76, lived together, she said he never mentioned any relatives.

Full Article & Source:
Will dispute prevents burial of Sherman Hemsley