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Finances And The Future

Church and family in legal fight over estate

| Feb 11, 2016 | Probate Litigation

A legal battle is brewing between the family of a long-time church minister and the church he founded. The church, which the bishop built over the years into a global congregation, claims that many assets of the estate are owned by the church and the sale of such assets should benefit the church. The family claims otherwise.

One legal expert notes that a decision in this case is likely to come down to how the ownership of the assets are listed. Are the assets listed as being privately held by the bishop, or are they listed as being owned by the church? The church is acting as the executor for the estate, say reports.

The family, who believes the church might be attempting to hide information about assets, has asked a probate court to step in. The court originally said the family should approach the estate through its church representatives, but the family says they have done so without a cooperative response.

The church representatives, on the other hand, report that the family is making claims that aren’t true. The church says the family claimed the bishop owned a private jet, and representatives say this is an incorrect claim. They also say that the family is exaggerating the worth of the bishop’s estate.

One of the family members says the bishop reportedly changed his will less than a year before he passed away. The bishop is reported to have suffered from dementia and other ailments toward the end of his life, and she says the will change seems suspicious. The family has filed a lawsuit to seek answers regarding the man’s estate.

This case is an example of how estate matters can become complex when multiple entities are involved. It’s also a good illustration of how important it is to create legal estate documents that are clear in how assets are owned and how they should be handled in the future.

Source: The Detroit News, “Family battles over megachurch founder’s estate,” Oralandar Brand-Williams, Jan. 27, 2016

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