Woman sues over mishandling of father's estate

By John O'Brien | Apr 12, 2006

CHARLESTON - A woman is attempting to put an 11-year dispute regarding her father's estate to rest by filing a lawsuit against his widow.

Debbie Atkins says in a lawsuit filed April 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court Sharon Burford Peay has refused to pay the part of the estate owed to Franklin Burford's heirs.

"She was in charge of his estate; mishandled monies, and I am now administratrix of the said estate," Atkins says in her complaint, which she filed herself. "The suit is being filed due to the mishandling of the funds of the estate as an attempt to collect money, due to heirs."

Atkins says her father's estate is valued at $119,927. Half of that is Peay's, and the other half is to be split between Atkins, Karen Dunkle, Connie Bean, Tina Bowling burford and Franklin Burford III and Charice Burford.

Atkins also claims that $21,777 in cash was found in a tool box, and that Peay spent it all on herself. She adds that she is subject to a ruling from the Kanawha County Fiduciary Committee to settle the estate with Burford's heirs but stated in a 2003 letter that she no longer had the funds to do so.

Also, there is $14,999.54 left in an escrow account that Atkins says should be distributed amongst the heirs.

Ultimately, Atkins' wish is for $49,704 to be split between the five heirs.

"What relief do we want from this suit?" the complaint says. "We want to relieve ourselves from the daily antagonizing facts that this money has been taken from us, and Sharon has 'gotten by' with it for 11 years. She gave us each $1,200 when we were due so much more."

Judge James Stucky has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-648

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