Saturday, August 2, 2008

More on best places - to loot?

Britney Spears ( will continue under her conservatorship through the end of the year. If it’s helping to stabilize her life, that’s probably not a bad thing. Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) actions, asset looting through probate venues and/or instruments such as wills, trusts or guardianships/conservatorships, are ugly situations that we wish on no one. Britney could be such a target and while not particularly fans, we do hope - especially for her children’s sake - that things continue in a positive direction.

Meanwhile, the August edition of Money magazine has an “America’s Best Small Cities“ list containing some interesting entries. Money rates cities on jobs/economy, safety, education, housing affordability and leisure/arts.

Those are important factors, but at Estate of Denial, we look at an area’s response to IRA actions. EoD wants to know if communities condemn or embrace IRA practitioners (from the general public to potentially lawyers, accountants, caregivers, etc.) who set up shop in their neighborhoods. We also watch for public officials’ responses as some join the property poaching circle while others, though not active participants, quietly ensure that the “home team” suffers no setbacks with rightful heirs, out-of-town counsel or anyone else that might upset local “enrichment projects.” Our goal is to determine if these locales support the concept of property rights and will provide reasonable protection should residents or affiliated parties find such rights under siege or are your assets “up for grabs” the moment you die, become disabled or incapacitated? Call us cynical, but these stories come to light every day.

Being based here in Texas, a quick review shows that four of the 100 cities (Carrollton, Frisco, Denton and Lewisville) are at least partially in Denton County, a county well known to EoD readers. Harris County (Houston) and its probate courts deservedly get EoD attention, but Missouri City is the only entry with even a portion of its boundaries overlapping Harris County. Maybe word’s getting around?

And then of course, ranking a respectable #7 was Round Rock, TX. — a town straddling Travis and Williamson counties. Travis County is home to Terry Erwin Stork, a disbarred attorney awaiting sentencing on August 13 for three counts of felony theft. This link provides good background on Stork and the Travis County probate system. We wrote about the IRA risk in the Williamson County city of Georgetown (Your Town, USA – a Great Place to Live, Launch and Loot?) when it was named in a Fortune ranking earlier this year. And a case currently playing out in a Williamson County district court will be a benchmark for area residents with regard to the practical stringency of their property rights.

Take a look at the ranking and let us know how the cities from your state match up. Are they a stronghold in protecting residents’ property or a poaching-by-probate-paradise?

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