December 20, 2014

Plan Your Estate and Plan It Well

Plan Your Estate Plan Your Estate….or Someone Else Will

The lesson taught by the current Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute issue is to plan your estate and plan it well. Otherwise, things may not end up where you wish.

The problem is, the plan was set for the belongings of the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks memorabilia. The $10 million collection of letters, pictures, clothes, awards and books was to be sold in one lot to a museum or facility that was able to display the entire collection. Her estate was set to go to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute with Elaine Steele being the trustee alongside former judge Adam Shakoor. (Steele was a long-time friend and co-founder of the institute.)

Parks knew an important procedure before you die is to plan your estate, and she did this. However, she didn’t know what would happen after her death.

The 8,000 treasured pieces belonging to the “Mother of the modern civil rights movement”, have been sitting in a warehouse waiting their fate for months now. Attorney Steven Cohen filed papers on behalf of the estate last week claiming the new judge, Freddie D. Burton, Jr, and two attorneys, John Chase, Jr, and Melvin Jefferson, Jr, are conspiring to clean the estate out.

After Parks died in 2005, Judge Burton somehow replaced Shakoor and replaced Steele with Chase and Jefferson. Cohen says they are charging the estate $595,000 in fees and doubling or tripling their costs to reach this feat.

In the filing, Cohen wrote “This was the beginning of a broad conspiracy among Judge Burton, Chase and Jefferson (the Conspirators’) to deplete the estate of its assets and unjustly and unlawfully direct these and other assets to the possession, control and ownership of Chase and Jefferson. It was nothing more than a concerted plan to raid and bankrupt the estate of a revered civil rights icon for improper and selfish financial interests.”

Chase and Jefferson’s attorney, Alan May, denies all of Cohen’s claims and says there cannot be a conspiracy with a judge with whom “neither he nor his clients have even spoken to privately.”

So the situation remains in the air and Rosa Park’s wishes seem to be being swept under the rug.

Plan Your Estate

When discussing the issue of planning your estate with a certified financial planner, Len Davis, he stresses the importance of this step and reveals how it is often overlooked.  Although there are further aspects in the above case, if you plan your estate with a knowledgeable financial planner you may be able to avoid some of the headaches and red tape others may be forced to face. His goal is for you to leave maximum assets with minimal problems.


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