This page features true, interesting Scoll & Remeika success stories associated with probate matters. In "The Case of the Frugal Brewery Worker" below, an important Wisconsin legal principle was established.
An estate attorney was unsuccessful in her search to find the will beneficiaries, so she believed the assets would have to pass under intestate procedure. The will had been signed thirty years earlier, naming a small neighborhood church in Milwaukee, a monastery in Pennsylvania, and a "cousin" as beneficiaries.
Scoll & Remeika was able to locate all three beneficiaries for the attorney. Our research revealed that the church congregation had twice merged with others, but was still an interested party with a current address. We discovered that the monastery still existed but had changed its name. Finally we determined that the "cousin" was really a first cousin, twice removed, but was still alive and happy to hear of his inheritance.
— Estate of Margaret F., Milwaukee County, WI
Tommy, a retired brewery worker, lived in a cramped, cluttered apartment near Marquette University. He loved chatting with students. Tommy seemed impoverished and was known to raid trash bins and eat at the local soup kitchen.
But he also took care of his bank accounts. When he died, he had over one million dollars in assets. He left no will and his heirs were unknown.
When we investigated his story, we learned that he had lived most of his life with his mother, Laura. We found his birth record in Milwaukee, which named his father as Frank. Frank was born in Michigan, lived in Waukesha, and was a musician. The only individual who fit this description was a man who eventually became a pillar of the community, a celebrated band director.
The closest heirs seemed to be nieces and nephews of Frank. We found these individuals, and took them on as clients.
We were unable to find any evidence, however, that Frank had ever lived with Tommy or his mother, or that Frank had ever been married to Laura. In the absence of proof that Tommy was a "marital child," the personal representative for the estate objected to the claims of the nieces and nephews that they were relatives through the father. Our attorneys took the case to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals on behalf of our clients. Remanded from appeal, Scoll & Remeika's clients were declared to be the heirs, and they inherited the estate.
An important legal principle was established by our appeal:
Section 893.88, limiting only an action for the establishment of paternity, does not preclude a motion for the purpose of determining paternity in a probate proceeding.
— DiBenedetto v. Jaskolski, 2003 WI App 70; 261 Wis. 2d 723; 661 N.W.2d 869; 01-2189
Over a hundred years ago, a wealthy East Coast woman gave land that was outside a small midwestern city to the local municipality. She had one requirement: that the land always be used for a park.
Thirty years after her gift, the municipality, in seeming ignorance of the condition on the gift, built a hospital on the land. The hospital stood there for more than 70 years.
When the city recently explored possible uses for the aging hospital property, attorneys discovered that the city lacked clear title because of the deed restriction.
Scoll & Remeika was hired to find the remaining heirs or parties-in-interest to the initial donor, so that waivers might be obtained. We researched the family, which was prominent 100 years ago, and now includes major public and political figures. Scoll & Remeika then provided the city with a dozen names and addresses and a family chart, so the city could obtain quit-claim deeds and thus clear title to the property.
— The Matter of Susan S.