Thursday, December 29, 2005

Filial Devotion - or Forum Shopping to Control Mom's Assets? The Glasser Case

Category: Probate and Estate Administration

A fascinating real life tale of intrigue and twists as a New Jersey resident is whisked away to Texas and her assets, although she is still alive, are being fought over in court by her children - A Family Feud Sheds Light on Differences in Probate Practices From State to State - New York Times:

"Lillian Glasser, by all accounts, never intended to spend her twilight years in Texas. Or her $25 million fortune.

A lifelong New Jerseyan, Mrs. Glasser owned a million-dollar home and a second house in Highland Park, N.J., with her husband Ben, a doctor who died in 2002.

But to the consternation of Mrs. Glasser and the New Jersey authorities, Texas now has a major grip on her life and her money - a consequence of a family feud and anomalies in probate practices from state to state.

After coming to Texas last February to visit her daughter, Mrs. Glasser, now 85 and afflicted with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, fell subject to the Bexar County Probate Court in San Antonio.

Placed under Texas guardianship after her daughter attested that her mother resided there, Mrs. Glasser is largely confined to a gated apartment complex in Alamo Heights, a small city surrounded by San Antonio, under 24-hour care and forbidden to return to New Jersey while a storm of litigation swirls around her. "

Some other interesting facts to add to the pot:

  • Mom's had a limited durable power of attorney that only became effective upon her disability or incompetence. Once the Texas probate court declared her incompetent, daughter was able to access mom's assets, which she did to move into joint name with her and mom (so she will receive them at death) as well as to pay for her children's education.
  • Middlesex County has sued that they have jurisdiction and issued an order at one point when Mrs. Glasser was in New Jersey that she could not leave - daughter "was not notified" of the order and took mom back to Texas
  • Mrs. Glasser says she wants to go back to New Jersey - but as often is the case with seniors, nobody really seems to care to bend to her wishes as quickly as possible

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At 1/03/2006 1:02 PM, Blogger Heraldblog said...

My family is involved in a complicated and very public will contest in Florida. I'd be interested to read your take on this in your blog:

My father in law, Harry Lieffers, Jr., lost his wife to a stroke in May, 2003. He lived in St. Petersburg, Fla. His two daughters flew from up north to be with him. That's when they discovered Dad had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years. Harry's second wife, Betty, worked hard to keep the diagnosis secret from family and friends.

Dad decided the day of the funeral to sell his house, valued at about $1 million. He selected a realtor, Gerard Growney, whom he had apparently known from the yacht club, where Dad liked to spend his time. Mr. Growney knew about the Alzheimer's diagnosis, and said he would work with family members to help sell the house.

Dad said he wanted to move back to Grand Rapids, Mich., his hometown, and his daughters from an assisted living facility for him. But Dad grew increasingly anxious about the sale of his house, and paranoid. This is typical for Alzheimer's. He soon told his daughters he wanted to move back to Florida. He said he wanted to practice law again, drive a car, get married, live on his own, and play the stock market. The doctors said this was out of the question - Dad was very easy to exploit, and was obviously unable to make important decisions.

Then the realtor, Gerard Growney, flew to Michigan, without informing family members, and took Dad back to Florida. A St. Petersburg lawyer, Alan Watson, assumed durable powers of attorney over dad, then two weeks later, rewrote Dad's will. The new will named the realtor and his girlfriend as sole beneficiaries, and excluded the daughters. The girlfriend is Attorney Watson's niece.

Obviously none of this would have happened if we had exerted guardianship early on, but Dad would hear none of that. By respecting Dad's wishes, and being mindful of his need for personal dignity, we are now accused of not respecting Dad's wishes, and being oblivious to his personal dignity.

At 1/22/2009 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Gerry Growney. He is not an honest or ethical person. Manipulation is his strength that and imposing threats. How this could be allowed to happen is appauling. Alan Watson has helped Growney with his legal problems for years. They are two peas in a pod. May God have mercy on their souls.

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At 2/14/2011 8:34 AM, Anonymous Gerry said...

I am Gerard Growney, but I am not the one in the USA. I am English and would just like to point out thatI am nothing to do with the other guy.

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