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Probate judges often OK nonlegal billing

Tow truck calls, pawn shop visits are some charges Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) July 9, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) For visiting their wards, for opening bank accounts and for selling used cars, tasks that hardly require a law degree, some probate judges have approved bills submitted by lawyers at rates of $200 to $400 an hour, Keep Reading…

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Perry Whatley battles probate court to the end

When probate court threatened to take away his assets, Perry Whatley gave up and fled — and ultimately died far from his home Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) July 9, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) Perry ”Bit” Whatley, 84, a former Baytown refinery worker and lifelong Texan, spent his final days in self-imposed exile, a fugitive from a Keep Reading…

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Fees paid to probate lawyers unreported

Galveston was among 6 counties that did not follow law on disclosure, investigation finds Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) July 8, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) More than a dozen years after the Texas Supreme Court demanded the disclosure of fees ordered paid by probate judges to court-appointed attorneys, the corruption-fighting measure has been ignored by some of Keep Reading…

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The Lynn Woolley Show (July 2, 2007)

Edward Snook The Lynn Woolley Show (July 2, 2007) Having spent the last 20 years researching cases of false and malicious charges, Edward Snook, Senior Editor and Investigator of the US~Observer maintains if the “justice system” can’t produce numbers, then obviously there is no need for as large a “justice system.” Do those in control Keep Reading…

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Family fights probate court over fortune

Relatives trying to end financial dispute say they found a patronage system that cost them Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) June 25, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) Probate court comes cloaked in mourning, its chambers filled with feuding families and highly charged dramas of human riches and human rights. It’s where the grieving, the embittered and sometimes the Keep Reading…

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Tips for cutting conflicts and costs in complex cases

Mediation, using professionals and better monitoring of fees all can help Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) June 25, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) When a relative dies or becomes incapacitated, Texas family members frequently turn to the state’s probate courts, where, most of the time, probating a will or naming a family member as guardian is swift and Keep Reading…

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A Catch-22 if you want lawyer’s work reviewed

Initially, the cost of investigating comes from estates of those who were allegedly harmed Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) June 25, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) Probate courts do have an internal mechanism for reviewing the work of court-appointed lawyers. However, the cost of investigating, at least initially, comes from personal estates — the people allegedly harmed in Keep Reading…

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Questions, allegations surround Texas probate courts

Observers say Harris County has most flagrant cases Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) June 25, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) FEE GUIDELINES Harris CountyProbate judges jointly approved their first-ever uniform fee guidelines after reviewing information provided by the Chronicle for this report. The changes, which took effect in January, cap legal fees in appointed guardianship cases at $300 Keep Reading…

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Houston businessman’s fee dispute comes with a cost

Probate critic fighting fees charged to his mother, while courts say he’s racking up the bills Lise Olsen (lise.olsen@chron.com) June 24, 2007 Houston Chronicle (TX) The Texas probate system allows any interested party to object to court fees. But the costly process can backfire. One of those who has fought the hardest is Houston businessman Keep Reading…

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Austin lawyer gives up license

Tony Plohetski (tplohetski@statesman.com; 512-445-3605) May 5, 2007 Austin American-Statesman (TX) An Austin lawyer accused of stealing from and mishandling estates of three elderly women over several years has surrendered his law license, officials with the State Bar of Texas said Friday. Terry Erwin Stork, 68, was the subject of a December article in the American-Statesman about Keep Reading…

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The Lynn Woolley Show (February 7, 2007)

Coach Dave Daubenmire The Lynn Woolley Show (February 7, 2007) Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass the Salt Ministries, joins talk show host Lynn Woolley to discuss if many problems in America are actually caused by lawyers. In his column, How About Free Legal Insurance?, Coach Daubenmire asks if we are being held Keep Reading…

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Overhaul of probate law proposed

Tony Plohetski (tplohetski@statesman.com; 512-445-3605) December 21, 2006 Austin American-Statesman (TX) Two veteran Texas lawmakers say they plan to file bills aimed at making it more difficult for people to steal from or mismanage estates and ensuring that the final wishes of the dead are properly carried out. State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and state Rep. Keep Reading…

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Breach of trust

Tony Plohetski (tplohetski@statesman.com; 512-445-3605) December 10, 2006 Austin American-Statesman (TX) Long before Laura Ellis’ mind failed, the retired government worker reassured one of her closest relatives that an Austin lawyer she had trusted for years would settle her estate after she died. Ellis, the frugal widow of a retired U.S. Army sergeant, didn’t tell niece Margie Keep Reading…

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Laws, in-laws can make wills difficult, expensive to execute

Tony Plohetski (tplohetski@statesman.com; 512-445-3605) December 10, 2006 Austin American-Statesman (TX) Most people who write a will in Texas pick a family member or friend to divide their money and property among loved ones when they die. Those executors generally must show up to court only twice: first to file the will, then 90 days later to Keep Reading…

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Loopholes that allow people to steal from the dead

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF December 10, 2006 Austin American-Statesman (TX) Editorial Given the responsibility to carry out the last wishes of a person as expressed in a will, most people will try hard to honor them faithfully out of a sense of legal obligation and moral duty, if not personal affection and respect. But occasionally someone does Keep Reading…

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