Estate of Denial news clips (4/13/16)

Torn Apart: Another mother and her ward are separated by probate judges and Guardianship Services Inc. (TX)

Fort Worth Weekly

March 16, 2016

A fun outing to a Fort Worth bingo hall on a pleasantly warm January afternoon was soured after Billy Mittel tripped in the parking lot, took a spill, and scraped his shoulder, legs, and chin. The strawberries and bruises were painful and ugly but not serious. Still, Mittel was moaning in pain. The 53-year-old has Down syndrome and relies upon his guardian of almost 30 years, Sandra Wood, to care for him. It’s a responsibility that Wood savors. She considers Mittel her son. Together they visit the zoo, eat at restaurants with friends almost every day, and stay busy while keeping each other company. Mittel doesn’t speak clearly and relies on simple sign language at times, but he and Wood understand each other well.

“We used to get 10 or 15 loaves of bread and go to Joe Pool Lake and feed the fish,” Wood said. “He loves to go, go go.”

And now he has been taken from her.


Lawyer probed in ‘Kung Fu Judge’ missing $700K inheritance (NY)

New York Post

April 6, 2016

A Queens lawyer accused of looting the estate of a Brooklyn judge is being probed by a grand jury over seven counts of grand larceny that accuse him of pocketing more than $700,000 in inheritance, The Post has learned.

Attorney Frank Racano — currently serving a 30 day contempt-of-court sentence for not accounting for funds taken from the estate of the late Judge John Phillips — admitted to a Brooklyn surrogate’s court judge in March that he’d written checks to himself from the deceased jurist’s escrow account.


Sumner Redstone Mental Capacity Suit Deal Said to Be Reached


April 7, 2016

Lawyers for billionaire Sumner Redstone have reached a preliminary agreement to settle an ex-girlfriend’s lawsuit claiming he is mentally incompetent, three people familiar with the matter said.

The agreement, which isn’t final, would end a dispute that exposed infighting among those closest to Redstone, including his daughter Shari and longtime confidant Philippe Dauman, and could have impacted the ailing media mogul’s control over Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.


How the new £20000 death tax could cost some families as much as £66000 (UK)

April 7, 2016

Consultation closed last week on the proposals that would see a huge increase in the probate fees paid by almost all estates.

From a flat-fee system – designed to cover court costs, which it currently does (more below) – the Government wants to introduce fees based on the size of the estate involved.

This will slap a huge additional cost on millions of families.

It comes as inheritance tax takings are also rapidly rising, and likely to be their highest ever in the tax year just ended.


Developer to buy Austin land held by heirs of ‘Peanuts’ creator Schulz (TX)

April 8, 2016

Amid the redevelopment boom poised to sweep the area south of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, yet another prime site is in play — a tract owned by the family trust of the late “Peanuts” comic strip creator Charles Schulz.

Stream Realty Partners confirmed that it has a contract to buy the triangular 1.4-acre site bounded by South First, West Riverside and Barton Springs Road, The tract is currently home to a Hooters restaurant and a parking lot. Stream Realty is considering developing an office project there, company executives said.


State Supreme Court declines to unseal records in Tom Benson’s mental competency case (TX/LA)

The New Orleans Advocate

April 8, 2016

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday denied a bid by the estranged relatives of Tom Benson to unseal some of the court records in a mental competency case they filed last year against the Saints and Pelicans owner.

Attorneys for Benson’s relatives had argued that the “blanket seal of the record” ordered by Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese violates the public’s right to access court records and unjustly hinders the parties involved from speaking freely about the dispute.

But the Supreme Court said it wouldn’t even consider whether it should overturn Reese’s decision.

James Brown and the soul of a soul singer

April 9, 2016

James Brown was more than a guy with a wild pompadour who danced.

He could be generous, but he also hoarded money. He valued family, but was arrested for domestic violence. His life mirrored issues of race, culture and class, and pop music owes him an enormous debt.

That’s only a bit of what author James McBride concludes in his new book, “Kill ’Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul.”