fbpx

The Best Laid Plans are Worthless if Not Executed

Family squabbles

Business owners need an estate plan if they hope to avoid expensive family squabbles

A civil lawsuit filed in a dispute over millions of dollars in assets once owned by the late Ohio industrialist Ralph Phillips was recently voluntarily withdrawn. Brought by three of Phillips' daughters against a fourth daughter who is serving as executor of his estate, the suit centered on how assets in the estate should be divided.

Ralph Phillips was president and CEO of Phillips Manufacturing and Tower. He died in a motorcycle accident at age 65 in September 2009. His four daughters were named in his will. Angela R. Phillips Deskins, one of the daughters who was also active in his business operations, was named executor.

Four appraisers with different specialties including real estate and guns were tasked with conducting a valuation of Phillips' assets in the estate. They set the worth of the non-business-related holdings at $4.74 million in a 2010 inventory. The assets included farm equipment, properties in Knox and Huron counties and South Dakota, numerous vehicles, bank deposits, and roughly $720,000 owed to Phillips on a note from Shelby Land Company (Shelby Country Club).

The three daughters filed a civil lawsuit in 2012, claiming Deskins interfered with the estate causing them to be deprived of trust inheritances they had expected. They alleged that their sister, the executor, failed to carry out their father's wishes prior to his death to recapitalize his business assets.

The three daughters sought an order from the probate court for equal distribution of the trust portion of Phillips' holdings. These assets included stock valued at more than $16 million in various companies, according to one court document. The three sought $7 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

Deskins stated in court pleadings that she held officer positions within her father's companies and complied with all duties. In addition, she noted that, during his lifetime, her father rejected an estate planning proposal which her sisters claim would have affected their inheritances by recapitalizing the company so each daughter would receive a one-quarter share.

"Throughout his life, until his untimely death, Ralph Phillips remained very much in control of his companies and his plans for the disposition of his estate and those plans did not include the recapitalization of his companies," a defense brief said.

As mentioned, the moral of this story is that business owners need an estate plan that works.  With one daughter in the family business and three who were not, it was not unreasonable for the estate planning attorney to warn of the problems that would arise from trying to divide these assets at the death of the business owner. These are issues for which an experienced estate planning attorney can provide solutions before a lawsuit is filed.

Reference: Mansfield (OH) News-Journal (January 4, 2016) "Court dispute over Ralph Phillips' estate withdrawn"

 

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

LIKE THIS POST?

We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Coronavirus/Covid-19
Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.