The world of probate court works to decide where the assets of the deceased go in cases where clear legal instructions do not exist or are inadequate. A well-constructed will enables many heirs to avoid the probate process.
Two news stories, one in Tennessee and one in New Mexico, provide some atypical insights into the probate process.
Complications in Tennessee
An investigation by 10News followed the twists and turns of a probate case that involved a recycling company in Knoxville, Tennessee. The death of the owner in 2010 prompted several creditors, including the city of Knoxville, to file claims against the estate. The recycling concern faced many difficulties with its business and had a long history of not making timely payments. A number of court cases rendered judgments against the company, many of which still existed when the owner passed away. Records show parties tried to declare the estate insolvent. As of May, 2019, the probate case remained ongoing.
Malfeasance in New Mexico
According to the Albuquerque Journal, a New Mexico probate judge illegally appointed her own husband as the administrator of another person’s estate. Court records revealed the judge granted authority to a special administrator through a process that unlawfully altered documents. This gave the husband full access to the deceased person’s bank accounts. The husband and wife, working together, used $300,00 from the accounts to pay off their mortgage and other debts, while ignoring the rightful heirs. The judge resigned her position under pressure from the Judicial Standards Commission. Authorities charged her with a long list of crimes.