Heirs in dispute with stepmother over father's estate

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 7, 2007, 12:00pm

Tom Roebuck

Charles Martin Clifton Sr. probably never imagined the dispute that would arise between his children and their stepmother after his death.

Clifton died in 1992 at age 77. His first wife, Mabel, the mother of his children Loma Latil and Charles Clifton Jr., had already died, and he had married Verna Ethel Clifton in 1978.

On June 5, Latil and Clifton Jr. filed a petition for declaratory judgment in Jefferson County District Court against Verna Clifton over their late father's estate.

Under the terms of a Family Settlement Agreement agreed to by Charles Martin's children and his wife, Verna Clifton was given property on Florida Avenue in Beaumont and was required to maintain the property, pay the taxes and insurance and "not sell or waste the property."

Verna Clifton also received a life estate in one-half of funds from asbestos lawsuits as well as one-half interest free and clear. Verna Clifton was required to deposit the life estate portion of the funds into an interest bearing account payable to Charles Clifton Jr. and Loma Latil upon her death.

"Defendant Verna Clifton has failed to account for the proceeds from the asbestos lawsuits," the petition states.

Her step-children also claim Verna Clifton has not properly maintained the Florida Street property. Furthermore, they say she cannot account for insurance proceeds that were issued to cover property damage caused by Hurricane Rita. And the plaintiffs allege Verna will not let them inspect the property.

The plaintiffs have hired Beaumont attorney Thomas Roebuck and seek damages within the jurisdictional limits of the court, interest, legal fees, court costs and any other relief they may be entitled to receive.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson in the 60th District Court.

Case No. B179-439

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