The five children whose fathers died in a 2008 explosion at the Imperial Sugar Refinery in Port Wentworth, Pennsylvania suffered the grief of losing a parent. Sacked Chatham County Probate Court clerk Kim Birge added financial salt to their emotional wounds by misappropriating more than $81,000 held in a trust for them until they came of age to receive it.
In a letter to the Chatham County Commission Chairman, attorney Brent J. Savage charged that the Probate Court should be required to replace the missing money. Attorney Savage claimed that the court was negligent in giving Ms. Birge full access to the funds despite knowing of her gambling addiction. Savage threatened to file a lawsuit against the court for repayment of the funds, interest, damages, and legal fees. That will be a tough case to win! This case illustrates the importance of talking with your estate planning lawyer about ways to ensure that only trustworthy trustees have access to trust assets you’ve set aside for yourself and your loved ones.
About the author:
John O’Grady leads a full-service estate and trust law firm in San Francisco. His practice includes estate planning & administration, probate and trust litigation.