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Businessman's estate subject to legal dispute

Although it occurred in another state, a legal dispute that has erupted over a wealthy businessman's trucking empire has important lessons for Rochester, New York residents who may be going through similar estate litigation.

This battle is between a brother and sister who, relatively recently, celebrated their mother's being sentenced to prison in connection with their father's death. Now, however, the two are on opposite sides of the courtroom aisle.

The sister, as administrator of her late father's estate, now has control over the father's transportation business and, as is common under any state's laws, is expected to operate the business with the best interests of all the estate's heirs, including those of her brother, in mind.

The brother claims that his sister has not lived up to this standard and has, instead, been pilfering assets from the father's trucking business. Specifically, he claims he has evidence that the sister has transferred ownership of trucks and other business property to her own transportation company and the company belonging to her boyfriend.

A judge presiding over this case has issued an order, to which all parties agreed, prohibiting the transfer of any business property without the court's approval. Both sides have also agreed to pay a forensic accountant, that is, an accountant who is trained to spot financially irregularities and abuses, to look over the books of the father's business.

This is only the latest battle in a drawn-out probate war between the brother and the sister, a war which has no doubt strained the family's relationship even further and which has also drained the estate financially. Thus, while this case illustrates the importance of an estate administrator's duty to preserve an estate's property, especially when there is a business involved, it also illustrates the oft-repeated belief that it is generally a good idea to consider settling estate disagreements amicably.

Source: San Antonio News-Express, "Murdered trucking tycoon Bill Hall Jr.'s children in court fight," Patrick Danner, March 14, 2017

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