When Rosa Parks passed away in 2005, she left behind an estate valued at approximately $10 million. The estate included many items of historical significance that could be sold. A new lawsuit alleges that these items were sold in a way that did not maximize their value.
Everyone remembers Rosa Parks as the brave civil rights leader who refused to sit in the back of the bus. It was one of the most significant moments in the civil rights movement. Because of her significance, Parks accumulated many items of historical value that drove the value of her estate up to $10 million. The fight over the estate has been contentious as several lawsuits have been filed.
Recently, another lawsuit has been filed as reported by the ABA Journal in an article titled “Lawsuit says former lawyer for Rosa Parks mishandled her estate.” The interesting thing about this lawsuit is that it was not filed by Parks’ heirs. The heirs are normally the ones who sue over mishandling estates. Instead an auction house, Guernsey’s, filed this case.
At issue is the way Parks’ historic items were sold. The lawyer apparently told the auction house that the items could not be sold at auction but that they must be sold together in a single, private sale. That sale has been completed, but Guernsey’s claim is that it could have received more for the items at auction. In short, the auction house believes that the lawyer made a misrepresentation when stating the items could not be sold at auction.
Generally speaking, an executor or a lawyer representing an estate does have a duty to maximize the value of the estate. Thus, if the auction house is right in its allegations, watch for a similar lawsuit filed by Parks’ heirs in the future.
Reference: ABA Journal (October 1, 2014) “Lawsuit says former lawyer for Rosa Parks mishandled her estate“
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