West Virginia Record

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Suit accuses Martinsburg attorney of 'undue influence' in parents' wills

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 29, 2012

Printz Jr.

CHARLES TOWN – A Berkeley County attorney is accused of taking advantage of his parents' age to change their will for his exclusive benefit.

Charles F. Printz Jr. is named as a defendant in a will contest filed by his sister MaryBeth Printz. In her complaint filed May 23 in Jefferson Circuit Court, MaryBeth, 45, of Anchorage, Alaska, alleges Charles, 62, of Martinsburg, exerted undue influence over his parents, Charles Sr. and Bethel, prior to their deaths to the point of getting them to rewrite their wills in order for him to gain control over real, and personal property they owned.

According to her complaint, Charles Sr. and Bethel, executed their wills in 2004. Both stated that the residuary of their estates was to be divided equally between Charles Jr. and MaryBeth.

However, MaryBeth alleges Charles Jr. with the assistance of Michael Caryl, a fellow partner in the law firm of Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love manipulated, Charles Sr. and Bethel to change their wills four years later.

According to the suit, Charles Sr.'s will was changed Oct. 1, 2008, when he was 93. In the new will, Charles Sr. named Charles Jr. as his estate's executor, and states, following Bethel's death, Charles Jr. is to receive the shares of capital stock in Aspen Pool Farms Inc., the Printz family farm Charles Sr. started in 1972.

Following distribution of the Aspen Pool Farms stock, MaryBeth was to
"receive the lesser of the value of all property remaining to be distributed" or $750,000. Also, Charles Jr. "was to receive any property remaining after the distribution to [MaryBeth]."

According to the suit, Bethel's will was charged 10 months earlier when she was 89. In her new will, Bethel also names Charles Jr. as executor and states that upon her death he is received half of the residuary estate "outright and free of trust" while MaryBeth's half is to remain in trust for her lifetime benefit with Charles Jr. serving as trustee.

The wills were admitted into probate last fall shortly after their respective deaths. Records show, Charles Sr., 96, a World War II veteran, certified public accountant and retired Shepherd University business professor died on Sept. 30 followed by Bethel, 92, a homemaker, seamstress and gardener on Oct. 20.

Along with ones of undue influence, MaryBeth makes claims against Charles Jr. for tortious interference with expectancy from an estate.

In her suit, MaryBeth, among other things, seeks an order declaring null and void Charles Sr.'s and Bethel's wills that were admitted into probate on Oct. 3, and Nov. 1, respectively, reviving their previous wills dated May 19, 2004, enjoining Charles Jr. from making any distribution of assets from the estates, impressing a trust of any funds Charles Jr. has withdrawn from the estates, and placing an amount equal to it with the Jefferson Circuit Clerk's Office and recovery of court costs and attorneys fees.

In addition to the suit, MaryBeth has filed a petition with the Jefferson County Commission to have Charles removed as the executor of his parents' estates, and a curator appointed in his stead. She is represented by John F. Hussell IV, Staci Criswell and Katherine M. Mullins with Dinsmore and Shohl.

The case is assigned to Judge David Sanders.

Jefferson Circuit Court case number 12-C-204

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