Probate Litigation Drags on Over Hotel Magnate's Estate

Eighteen months after he died, the estate of the 93-year-old hotel magnate John Q. Hammons, who used to own John Q. Hammons Hotel Management Company, still remains unresolved. Shortly after his death, a group of his friends filed a suit amid concerns regarding his care.

Online court records show that the case remains active, but the judge overseeing the probate dispute has sealed the records. It is not clear when the case will be resolved.

The probate case caps a bad year on the legal front for Hammons' former company. Hammons' successor faces two lawsuits claiming that she engaged in improper business practices. One case alleges that she exaggerated the company's worth in order to get $80 million in construction loans.

In the other case, a holding company owning more than half of the nearly 80 hotels managed by Hammons alleges that his successor broke a contract when she took over the company.

The Hammons case demonstrates the importance of having a proper will and a reliable executor in place. Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough. Spending many long hours settling a loved one's estate while also grieving their passing only makes dealing with the deceased's death even worse. A valid will can minimize the potential hardship for those surviving their loved one.

Still, in cases like Hammons', a will may not be enough to prevent trouble. Where probate matters are contested, it is important to get the right information about probate issues. Some of those issues include ambiguous wills, disappointed heirs, fiduciary misdeeds, property right disputes, tax disputes and unscrupulous disinheritance.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, " Probate fight over Mo. Hotel magnate continues," Aug. 10, 2012

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