Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rosa Parks' Estate Triggers Battle

The estate of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who refused give up her seat on the bus in 1955, is now embroiled in a battle.

As reported in Jeffrey Zaslow, Rosa Parks's Death Stirs Up Bitter Feud Over Her Estate, Wall St. J., Nov. 16, at A1:

Her will and trust name her longtime assistant, Elaine Steele, and a retired judge, Adam Shakoor, as her personal representatives, or administrators, of the estate. But last week Mrs. Parks's nephew, William McCauley, filed a petition in Wayne County Probate Court in Detroit demanding that he be named her representative instead. His lawyer, Darren Findling, says Mr. McCauley plans to contest the will, signed in 2003, arguing that Mrs. Parks was mentally incapable of signing it and that her caregivers exerted undue influence.

The court fight is the culmination of a feud that Mrs. Parks tried to patch up during her lifetime. Family members say that caregivers, including Ms. Steele, took advantage of Mrs. Parks for monetary gain. But others, including Mr. Shakoor, disagree. They say that Ms. Steele and those who oversaw Mrs. Parks's affairs loved and protected her, especially after she began suffering from dementia in recent years. "She was well taken care of," says former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who was named a court-appointed attorney for Mrs. Parks last year.


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