Special judge gets cop’s disputed inheritance case Sgt. Goodwin’s $2.7M inheritance to be reviewed by new court (NH)

PORTSMOUTH — A legal dispute over a police officer’s $2.7 million inheritance has been transferred to the Strafford County Superior Court and Probate Judge Gary Cassavechia, who was recently charged with managing a special docket for the state’s most complex trust litigation cases.

By order of administrative Judge Edwin Kelly, Cassavechia will preside over the case involving the estate of the late Geraldine Webber, who changed her will months before she died to leave her waterfront home, stocks, bonds and a Cadillac to Portsmouth police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin. Webber’s last will and trust is being challenged by people and entities with diminished inheritances as a result of the bequest to Goodwin. Those entities include the Portsmouth police and fire departments.

Several lawyers allege in the probate court that Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber, while she was impaired by dementia, to benefit from her last will and trust.

Cassavechia began presiding over the newly-established trust docket in January, when Judge David King, deputy administrative judge for the state’s circuit court system, said it was established to prevent backlog of routine estate cases, by designating complex cases to Cassavechia’s docket.

“The Circuit Court has been acutely aware of the need to make changes in response to the growing number of complicated trust cases that we are seeing in the probate division,” said King, when announcing the new docket last December. “As a result, we are instituting a new trust docket which will allow the court system to identify early on those cases where significant assets are at stake and that are most likely to result in prolonged litigation, with extensive discovery and a lengthy trial.”

According to the state judicial system, Cassavechia’s experience included presiding over the well-known Tamposi trust case that lasted several years, “in addition to many other complex trust and estate matters.” According to King’s announcement, Cassacechia “is widely respected by the probate bench and bar for his keen knowledge of the law and his ability to manage complex litigation with a multitude of issues and parties”.

The trust docket came in response to the legislature passing the Trust Modernization Act in 2011 which, according to the state judiciary department, “by design, attempts to make New Hampshire the most trust-friendly state in the country.”


Special judge gets cop’s disputed inheritance case Sgt. Goodwin’s $2.7M inheritance to be reviewed by new court
Elizabeth Dinan
October 3, 2014