Deciding who will be allowed to manage the assets of a large estate is the goal of a current probate matter that may be of interest to readers in Texas. In the case, heirs to the fortune amassed by a frozen food mogul assert that their parents were unduly influenced only weeks before their deaths into changing the trustees appointed in estate planning documents to manage the estate. A contentious probate litigation ensued after the deaths of the couple.
Jeno Paulucci amassed a large fortune creating frozen foods for the American consumer. In fact, he developed and sold the Chung King and Michelina’s brands, among others. His assets were placed in trusts that were managed by two trustees for 35 years.
Only weeks before his 2011 death, Paulucci and his wife, who also died the same year, changed the trustees of their estates to two men who reside in a different state. This change came as a shock to the estate beneficiaries who believed that the new trustees did not have the estate’s best interests at heart. In dispute is the management of trusts said to be worth $100 million.
The probate litigation has caused some division in the Paulucci family with members disagreeing about the removal of the trustees. This litigation may have been avoidable if Paulucci had decided to discuss his decision to change trustees prior to his death. Without such a discussion, the heirs were left to wonder about the circumstances surrounding the apparent sudden change. Though not required, such an action could have helped this family remain unified as they mourned the deaths of both of their parents. Texas residents who are going through similar estate planning steps may wish to consider this case before they finalize their estate documents.
Source: StarTribune.com, “Jeno Paulucci money in nasty court dispute,” Abby Simons, Oct. 20, 2012