A probate court case is still pending, but a lawsuit brought by three sisters against a fourth has been voluntarily withdrawn. It is more likely a strategic move than an indication of any rapprochement.
This dispute between sisters for the assets of Ralph Phillips, a wealthy and generous Ohio industrialist and philanthropist, includes a difference of opinion as to whether or not a fourth sister, the executor of their father's will, failed to carry out their father's wishes, resulting in their inheritances being considerably less than they had anticipated. The lone embattled sister claims that her father made that crucial decision, not her.
The probate court case, initially brought in 2009, is still pending, says The Mansfield (OH) News-Journal in "Court dispute over Ralph Phillips' estate withdrawn."
Ralph Phillips was president and CEO of Phillips Manufacturing and Tower. He died in a motorcycle accident at age 65 in September 2009. His four daughters were named in his will. Angela R. Phillips Deskins, one of the daughters who was also active in his business operations, was named executor.
Four appraisers with different specialties including real estate and guns were tasked with conducting a valuation of Phillips' assets in the estate. They set the worth of the non-business-related holdings at $4.74 million in a 2010 inventory. The assets included farm equipment, properties in Knox and Huron counties and South Dakota, numerous vehicles, bank deposits, and roughly $720,000 owed to Phillips on a note from Shelby Land Company (Shelby Country Club).
The three daughters filed a civil lawsuit in 2012, claiming Deskins interfered with the estate causing them to be deprived of trust inheritances they had expected. They alleged that their sister, the executor, failed to carry out their father's wishes prior to his death to recapitalize his business assets.
The three daughters sought an order from the probate court for equal distribution of the trust portion of Phillips' holdings. These assets included stock valued at more than $16 million in various companies, according to one court document. The three sought $7 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.
Deskins stated in court pleadings that she held officer positions within her father's companies and complied with all duties. In addition, she noted that, during his lifetime, her father rejected an estate planning proposal which her sisters claim would have affected their inheritances by recapitalizing the company so each daughter would receive a one-quarter share.
Court papers on behalf of Deskins make it very clear that Ralph Phillips was in complete control of his companies and how he wanted his estate to be handled. He did not wish to recapitalize his business assets and that was his decision and his rightful choice.
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Reference: Mansfield (OH) News-Journal (January 4, 2016) "Court dispute over Ralph Phillips' estate withdrawn"