IN RE: )
ESTATE OF HELEN M. SLOAN )
CREIGHTON W. SLOAN )
Plaintiff ) ORDER
SAMUEL H. SLOAN )
This matter came before the Court pursuant to Petitions for the Formal Appointment of Personal Representative filed by both parties. This case was tried on October 7 and 29, 2003. The Plaintiff was represented by Catherine H. Kennedy of the Richland County Bar. The Defendant appeared pro se, however, he was previously represented by Patricia Harrison of the Richland County Bar who was relieved as counsel by prior Court Order.
The sole issue before the Court was which son of the decedent would better serve as Personal Estate.
The Court carefully reviewed and considered two days of trial testimony along with seventeen (17) Exhibits in evidence by the Plaintiff and sixty-six (66) Exhibits in evidence by the Defendant.
The following findings and conclusions are made:
l. That this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action and parties hereto.
2. That the Plaintiff and the Defendant are the sole children of the decedent.
3. That the Estate appears to be worth a total of approximately $258,000.00 consisting of three bank accounts.
4. That the Plaintiff has in the past for his mother served as Attorney-in-fact, temporary Conservator, and Guardian.
5. That the Plaintiff is employed at the Savannah River Plant, is a South Carolina resident within the Court's jurisdiction, has stable employment, has never filed bankruptcy, and has and presumably will have the fine and capable representation by Catherine Kennedy in this Estate.
6. That the Defendant filed bankruptcy in 1994, was cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission for records and bookkeeping violations in the 1970's, was recently facing eviction from his residence for being unable to pay rent, has a rather uncertain and varied employment history, and is a New York resident. Also, the Defendant is the current administrator on his father's Estate, however, the Estate was opened in 1986 and has never been closed. Finally, the Defendant repeatedly throughout the trial of this case questioned critically the validity and judicial integrity of the court system in Virginia and Aiken County, South Carolina.
7. The Defendant presented a sordid and bizarre history of this family in an attempt to justify this Court in appointing him as Personal Representative. Numerous allegations, somewhat unbelievable and spectacular at times, were levied against the Plaintiff involving kidnappings, mishandling of money, and acts of hatred and dislike for the decedent. The evidence presented by the Defendant, and with most of it being remote and irrelevant having alleged to have occurred in the 1980's and early 1990's, did not rise to the level of a preponderance of the evidence standard that must be shown to sustain a party's burden of proof. The Defendant even admitted during testimony that "a lot of this is based upon supposition". The Defendant's case was simply a display of the longstanding feud and sad relationship between these brothers. Quite remarkable too, the Defendant also admitted during testimony that the reason for wanting to be appointed Personal Representative was to "regain ownership of his mother's house in Virginia so he and his eight children would have a place to live".
8. Based upon the credibility of the testimony and evidence presented, the Plaintiff should be the party to be appointed Personal representative. Due to the fact that a bond would be appropriate (without attorney involvement), it would appear that the Plaintiff would have the better chance of securing a bond than the Defendant would have.
Based upon the above, it is
HEREBY ORDERED that Creighton W. Sloan is appointed as Personal Representative of this Estate.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bond is required prior to the receipt of any assets of this Estate in the amount of $275,000.00. This Bond amount is based upon the testimony concerning the three bank accounts consisting of this entire Estate. If Ms. Kennedy remains involved in representing the Personal Representative and if they so choose, Bond will be waived if the proceeds of the three bank accounts are placed in Ms. Kennedy's trust account during the course of administration. The Court will need to be informed as to which course of action the Personal Representative takes. If the Estate's value increases, the Court will need to be promptly advised.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Aiken County shall remain involved in the administration of this Estate and the undersigned will retain jurisdiction only concerning any future litigation that may arise. Aiken County staff shall issue certificates, oversee filings by the Personal Representative and like processes in administration.
DONALD B. HOCKER SPECIAL PROBATE JUDGE AIKEN COUNTY
Laurens, South Carolina