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Estate valued at $162 million still before probate court decades later

Maryland residents who grew up in the northeast may remember a wealthy businessman popularly known as "Hi Ho" D'Addario. Tragically, he was killed at age 63 in a small plane crash in March 1986. Despite having a will that sought to distribute his estate among his wife and five children, his estate remains open before the local probate court. The estate, valued at approximately $162 million, has been contested for more than 25 years after his death, which is highly unusual compared to estate administration for most other probate cases.

The businessman's oldest son has been battling with Cadle Corp., which claims it is owed $3.1 million from the estate. Cadle Corp. claims that the son, who has presided over his father's company and other investments, has mismanaged the estate and caused it to become insolvent. The Cadle suit alleges that the case has lacked proper judicial supervision and therefore the $162 million estate has essentially vanished. Until recently, the probate file had been sealed for several decades, which purportedly prevented lawyers for Cadle from examining the estate.

When there are a variety of interested parties in the assets held in an estate, some estate administration may be more complicated than originally thought, especially when conflicting claims over estate obligations arise. Not only does the probate court have to consider those named in the deceased's will; it also has to consider creditor's claims on debts owed by the estate.

Someone challenging a will can put a twist on the probate process, though it is not clear from a news article if that was the case in the "Hi Ho" D'Addario estate. A probate judge may have to hear legal arguments from the various interested parties and their attorneys in order to ultimately decide the validity of any challenged will and how to administer a contested estate, whether it is in Maryland or any other jurisdiction. However, more than likely, most cases will not be quite as complicated and time-consuming as the D'Addario case, which is still pending before a Connecticut probate court.

Source: Hartford Courant, "The will of a prosperous Bridgeport businessman, F. Francis D'Aaddario, has been stuck in probate court for more than a quarter century.," Rick Green, June 10, 2012

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