‘Ace and Buck in the Probate Pit’ chronicles Colorado estate looting case


We’ve posted a troubling history of a Colorado probate case that so well defines how “proper estate planning” can be corrupted to thwart any protection or predictability as “sold” by many legal industry practitioners.

Ace and Buck in the Probate Pit is the story of W.C. and S.C. Scott, co-trustees of the Sophia H. and Wm C. Scott Revocable Trust.  Its introduction provides this context:

This is a cautionary tale for all who have followed the advice of an estate planner and created legal documents to express their final wishes. It is a tragic commentary on the ruthlessness of the probate system. Although Probate Court is supposed to be a court of equity, it is still required to operate within the law. The Denver Probate Court is established as a specialized court with a single judge. Decisions in probate court cannot be appealed until all claims are settled, unless the court rules to allow an appeal on a single claim. Waiting to appeal a portion of a case can destroy one’s ability to finance a defense. Courts control the pace and therefore the cost of litigation and few people can afford to pursue it to the end. The very structure of this specialized court can easily lead to a sort of “star chamber” when its phenomenal power is abused.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Don’t count on your directives being honored by the probate cartel. As one conservator said, “If you can get in with the court, it’s a gravy train.” This is about W.C. Scott and his son, Sam, who has endured a 12-year slog through the probate quagmire. (Note: Sam is aka Scotty and Buck, and his father, W.C. is aka Ace.)

Estate of Denial® has long described that estate disputes generally involve some combination of disgruntled family members, wannabe heirs and dishonest legal practitioners.  These legal practitioners refer not just to attorneys, but also to judges and other court-related personnel.

Former Denver Probate Judge C. Jean Stewart presided over the Scott estate proceedings.  Here’s a characterization of her performance on the bench:

I have never seen a judge as arrogant, uncaring, ignorant of the law and vicious as Judge C. Jean Stewart. I have spoken to other attorneys and it is clear from their comments that my client’s case is not the only one in which Judge Stewart has arrogantly ignored the law and the facts and done incalculable harm to those she is charged with protecting. Those attorneys are unable to speak out publicly for they still practice law before her. They cannot take the chance that she will punish their existing or future clients. . . . It is not only the disabled who are at risk before Judge Stewart. Our elderly in Denver are also at risk . . . In her capacity as Presiding Judge, she is directly responsible for the incredible and consistent failures of Denver’s Probate Court to protect our elderly from rapacious guardians and conservators.

—P.J. Finley, attorney of 31 years, 2010

Ace and Buck in the Probate Pit is a fascinating, but as said before, troubling read as it so aptly reflects the dishonesty and injustice too many Americans are today facing within probate systems across this country.