Columbus Family Involved in Estate Battle

Posted on August 3rd, 2011 No Comments

The children of a wealthy Columbus banker are involved in a battle over their late father’s estate.

According to Muscogee County Probate Court documents, Frank G. Lumpkin III has redoubled his efforts to remove his sister, Julia W. Lumpkin, as personal representative of their parents’ multimillion-dollar estates. Frank Lumpkin sued his sister last year for millions of dollars in damages, claiming she breached her fiduciary duties by stubbornly delaying the administration of the estates. Julia Lumpkin has denied wrongdoing and filed a countersuit against her brother.

Frank Lumpkin filed an amended version of his lawsuit, which accuses his sister of violating the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct and state law by serving as a judge and co-executrix of estates pending in her own court.

“Her actions not only constitute grounds for removal as Co-executor but should also be referred to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission for investigation,” the lawsuit claims.

Julia Lumpkin recused herself from her parents’ estates last August after her brother filed the lawsuit. Frank Lumpkin’s lawsuit cites a Georgia statute that states: “The judge of a probate court cannot, during his term of office, be executor, administrator, or guardian, or other agent of a fiduciary nature required to account to his court.”

If you need assistance with probate litigation, please contact the Houston probate litigation lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Jim Reeves Estate Battle Nearing a Close

Posted on July 27th, 2011 No Comments

The long, strange battle over the estate of late country musician Jim Reeves may soon be over.

Earlier this month, Nashville Seventh Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy ruled that the dispute would be narrowed to the interpretation of a 1976 will written by Reeves’ widow.  A trial has been tentatively set for October.

The country crooner died on July 31, 1964 when a single-engine private plane he was piloting crashed. His widow, Mary Reeves, took over managing Reeves’ posthumous career. She has released only a portion of the 100 demos that Reeves had recorded and stored away during his lifetime.

In the mid-1999s Mary signed away her late husband’s entire catalog of songs in exchange for $7.6 million in two promissory notes from United Shows of America. The company was owned by a former bank official named Ed Gregory Jr. He sold most of Reeves’ collection of memorabilia. The administrator of Mary’s estate had filed a lawsuit in 2001, challenging the transactions. This battle went on for more than four years, until a new will surfaced in 2005.

Mary Reeves’ second husband, Terry Davis, claimed he discovered in an old safe a one-page, handwritten will that Mary had allegedly written years before, leaving him the bulk of her estate, including all rights to Reeves’ music, royalties, and legacy.

If you are involved in an estate battle involving contested wills, please contact the Houston Contested Will Lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Lawsuit: Rosa Parks’ Estate Was Drained

Posted on July 21st, 2011 No Comments

A lawsuit has been filed against two lawyers and a judge over their handling of civil rights icon Rosa Parks’ estate.

According to a Michigan Supreme Court filing, Wayne County Probate Judge Freddie Burton Jr. allowed two court appointed attorneys, John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., to drain nearly $243,000 in legal fees from Parks’ $372,000 estate. The filing states that once the money was gone, the lawyers persuaded Burton to award them Parks’ vast memorabilia collection and the rights to license her name, which Parks had given to her Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development long before her death.

Attorney Steven Cohen, who represents the institute in the probate case, filed a request Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision that stood behind Burton’s handling of the case. Cohen accused Burton of overstepping his bounds.

“Since Mrs. Parks’ death in 2005,” the filing reads, “the court system of her adopted city has embarked on a course to destroy her legacy, bankrupt her institute, shred her estate plan, and steal her very name.”

Cohen claims that Burton has kept his actions and rulings sealed to prevent the public from learning that the lawyers were disregarding Parks’ final wishes.

If you need assistance with probate litigation in the Houston area, please contact the Houston probate litigation attorneys of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

UK Woman Claims Brain Tumor Invalidates Late Husband’s Will

Posted on July 14th, 2011 No Comments

A woman in the United Kingdom is in the midst of an estate battle with her late husband’s family.

According to court documents, 61 year-old Olga Smith says her late husband Thomas Smith was not of sound mind when he replaced a 1992 will, which left her almost the entirety of his $846,00 estate, with a 2005 will in which she got nothing. Following Smith’s death in 2009, an autopsy revealed that he had been suffering from a neuroblastoma brain tumor. Mrs. Smith now claims that her late husband’s “strange behavior,” including an obsession with crossdressing, was a sign that his faculties had been addled by the tumor, rendering his 2005 will invalid.

Members of Mr. Smith’s family, however, insist he knew exactly what he was doing when he created the will. They claim Mrs. Smith was cut out of the will because their marriage was effectively over and she “never used a broom, never cooked a meal, not even a cup of tea” for her husband.

If you are involved in an estate battle, please contact the experienced Houston contested will lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Understanding Living Wills

Posted on July 6th, 2011 No Comments

In recent years, living wills have become quite popular, yet many people are unsure of exactly how they work.

A living will is a legal document that an individual uses to outline their wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatments. Living wills are also known as health care directives, physician directives, or advance directives. It is important to note that a living will is different from a living trust, which is a means of holding and distributing an individual’s assets to avoid probate.

The requirements for a living will vary by state. Generally, the declarant would indicate which life-prolonging treatments they do or do not want applied in the event they suffer from a terminal illness or enter a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless the declarant becomes incapacitated.

If you are interested in learning more about a living will, please contact the Houston Living Will Lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Legal Battle Over Art Collector’s $300 Million Estate

Posted on June 29th, 2011 No Comments

The widow of a Manhattan art dealer has filed a lawsuit against the executor of her late husband’s $300 million estate.

Accoridng to court documents, Clare Stone, the widow of ardent collector Allan Stone, has filed a lawsuit claiming the executor of his estate improperly bought an $8.5 million Connecticut house with Stone’s money. The lawsuit also claims the executor, Leila Wood-Smith, of moving $200 million of Stone’s art into her home without court approval.

Daughter Jessie Stone claims she visited Wood-Smith’s home in 2010 and was surprised to see some of her father’s collection on the walls.

According to the lawsuit, Wood-Smith allegedly received a fee of nearly $6 million while Stone’s widow has received “less than one percent per year of the value of the Marital Trust.”

Stone’s estate is valued at approximately $300 million. Portions of the estate have sold at two auctions. In May 2011, works by sculptor John Chamberlain sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $55 million. In 2009, 71 lots offered by Christie’s sold for $52.4 million.

If you need assistance protecting your estate and navigating the complex legal realm of trust law, please contact the Houston trust attorneys of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Gary Coleman’s Manager, Ex-Wife Battle Over Estate

Posted on June 6th, 2011 No Comments

Actor Gary Coleman’s estate remains tied-up in a legal dispute that has lasted almost a year.

The former child actor died on May 28, 2010. Coleman wrote a will in 2005 that left the bulk of his estate to his former manager Anna Gray. Coleman’s ex-wife Shannon Price, however, claims that she is entitled to Coleman’s estate because the actor made a handwritten amendment to his will naming Price as beneficiary.

The amendment is still in dispute. Lawyers are also debating whether Price should be considered Coleman’s common-law spouse. The couple divorced in August 2008, but continued living together.

If you need assistance with estate planning or litigation, please contact the Houston Probate Litigation Lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 182-362-2865.

Contested Wills: Ga. Court Sides with Millionaire’s Mistress

Posted on June 2nd, 2011 No Comments

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the girlfriend of a wealthy car dealer can inherit a large portion of his vast estate.

The state’s highest court voted 4-3 that the proceeds from the sale of a Florida condominium should go to Anne Melican. According to court documents, Melican wheeled Harvey Strother into his lawyer’s office shortly before Strother’s death in 2004 to overhaul his will. Strother guaranteed Melican about $6 million of his $37 million estate.

Strother left the bulk of his assets to his wife Betty and their children in his 1988 will. In December 2003, however, he signed over prime pieces of real estate to Melican, his mistress of 10 years. A lower court found that Melican shouldn’t receive any of the properties, as the will was changed around the time that Strother had been drinking about a gallon and a half of wine each day.

Melican’s attorney argued that she was protected by Florida law, as the will was signed in Florida, and Georgia’s court agreed.

If you need assistance with estate planning or help with a contested will, please contact the Houston contested will lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Myths About Planning a Will

Posted on February 18th, 2011 No Comments

Wills are extremely important documents that make sure your last wishes are carried out when you die. They can help and protect the people that you love and are closest to you during your life. However, there are many common misconceptions about creating a will and how a will is carried out.

One such myth is that a will is not needed if one does not have many assets. This is just not true. Most people are worth more than they know, and everything they own can have value to someone in their life. Another myth is that a spouse will receive everything, so it is not necessary to create a will. This may be true, but, if the spouse dies, remaining assets may not be divided the way they were intended.

Furthermore, many people wonder why they should have their wills written by attorneys when they can do it themselves. A will is a legal document. An attorney will assure that all of the correct legal jargon is used so that a person’s wishes are carried out correctly.

It is important to plan ahead in life. If you would like more information on planning your will, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C. at 281-362-2865.

Renowned photographers’ trust involved in legal dispute

Posted on January 19th, 2011 No Comments

The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust is involved in a legal battle with a man who has been accused of advertising posters and prints featuring “Ansel Adams Lost Negatives,” which the trust claims are not the work of the photographer.

The trust originally sued the man in August 2010 after he advertised “Ansel Adams Lost Negatives” items on his website. However, the man and his media company have since filed a counterclaim against the trust, as well as against the University of Arizona, which supported the trust’s claims. The complaint states that a team of experts have evaluated the negatives and found that the negatives were most likely created by Ansel Adams, and that the trust defamed the man and his company in their comments to international news networks.

The complaint and the counterclaim are set to be heard in May 2012.

If you or someone you know are involved in a wills and trusts dispute, the Houston estate planning lawyers at Garg & Associates, P.C. can help. For legal advice contact our offices at 281-362-2865.

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