Shouldn’t your final wishes matter?

One last comment on the Wade Sheffield case.  Sheffield was convicted of mismanaging the trust fund that Vida C. Miller had willed to two charities.  Mrs. Miller’s wishes appear to have been straightforward and simple.  EoD was struck when a Temple Daily Telegram (Texas) story (http://www.temple-telegram.com/story/2008/01/31/46766) quoted Bell County prosecutor Nelson Barnes saying with regard to Sheffield’s activities that “we didn’t find any evidence of trips to Mexico or anything that dramatic.” 

Recognizing that we don’t know the full context of the statement, but, aside from routine expenses related to estate management, is it right for Sheffield to have extracted money from Mrs. Miller’s estate for any purpose except what she clearly set forth?  Does it matter if he used the money for a trip to Mexico or to prop up a couple of failing businesses?  Either instance would be an act of self-enrichment and most importantly, either instance would directly conflict with Mrs. Miller’s direction regarding the final distribution of her, repeat her, assets. 

Is Sheffield’s betrayal of Mrs. Miller’s trust less egregious because there was “no evidence of trips to Mexico or anything that dramatic”?  As staunch supporters of property rights, EoD believes any deviation from Mrs. Miller’s final wishes was an act of criminality and encourages the exposure of public officials who fail to support the basic property rights of citizens – dead or alive – within their jurisdictions. 

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