LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City lawyer accused of killing her millionaire father by forging documents to deny him potentially life-saving medical care no longer has control over his will, a judge ruled Thursday.
Susan Elizabeth Van Note, who is free on $1 million cash bond, was removed as the personal representative of her father’s estate by a Clay County probate court judge in Liberty. Van Note, who goes by Liz, attended the brief hearing but did not testify or comment afterward.
The 44-year-old has pleaded not guilty to felony forgery and first-degree murder in Boone County, where William Van Note died in October 2010.
Prosecutors say his only child showed University Hospital doctors a durable power of health care document giving her permission to remove him from life support four days after an intruder shot him and his long-time girlfriend, Sharon Dickson, at their Lake of the Ozarks vacation home. No one has been charged in Dickson’s death.
“She’s out,” said attorney Jerry Brant, who represents Dickson’s adult son in the legal fight over Van Note’s estate, which is worth at least several million dollars. Her son, Andrew, attended the hearing but declined an interview request.
William Van Note was preparing to marry Dickson after two decades together, according to friends. Dickson was his first choice as personal representative and principal beneficiary, provided she outlived the 67-year-old retired accountant and small-town landlord. He also owned several vacation homes, including one in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Three days after Liz Van Note was charged in early September with killing her father, Andrew Dickson asked the probate court to remove Van Note as the estate’s executor. Circuit Judge Larry Harman suspended Van Note from that role on Sept. 12, temporarily appointed a local lawyer to fill that role and scheduled Thursday’s hearing.
Liz Van Note’s attorney had submitted a petition Wednesday in which her client “acquiesced” to the judge’s earlier decision — essentially not objecting to her removal but forcing the judge to decide on his own.
“She is not going to voluntarily resign,” attorney Linda Tabory said in court.
Van Note’s legal practice advertises her “compassionate representation of clients” and expertise in end-of-life issues. She has lived with her mother Barbara and teenage son in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit following a 2006 divorce. She also helped her father manage his numerous commercial rental properties in Liberty.
Prosecutors have not suggested any motive in William Van Note’s killing.
In September 2009, Liz Van Note filed for bankruptcy in federal court, listing $254,938 in assets and $374,072 in debt owed to 10 creditors, including American Express, Wells Fargo Bank and a children’s hospital. Her release on bond prompted the bankruptcy trustee to publicly question where Van Note came up with the money to get out of jail pending trial.
Liz Van Note’s mother also has had legal troubles. Seven years ago, Barbara Van Note was convicted of stealing more than $100,000 from her mother by forging a financial power of attorney document. Barbara Van Note, 67, served 11 months in jail and received an additional two years of probation. Details in that case are scarce because Barbara Van Note had the 2005 conviction expunged shortly after her daughter’s September arrest. The Johnson County, Kan., court records are now permanently sealed.
Liz Van Note is also accused of enlisting Desre and Stacey Dory of Shawnee, Kan., to help kill her father. Both have pleaded not guilty to felony forgery and second-degree murder charges. Liz Van Note and Stacey Dory were high school classmates.
KC lawyer charged in dad’s death loses will fight
Alan Scher Zagier/Associated Press
November 15, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle