Attorney withdrawals in family dispute case over PA woman naming pastor as beneficiary

David Yates Dec. 20, 2010, 9:26am

No action has been taken place in a probate case centered a deceased Port Arthur woman who left her entire state to her preacher.

Last June, the Southeast Texas reported that Richard Nicholson, a relative of the late Marshall Jean Nicholson, was petitioning a Jefferson County judge to reject a version of the woman's will that leaves her inheritance to local preacher Randy Vaughn.

Richard Nicholson of Houston filed contests the validity of the will of Marshall Jean Nicholson dated Nov. 30, 2007. The court papers were filed June 5, 2009, in the Probate Court of Jefferson County.

On July 6, Richard Nicholson's attorney, John Morgan of Beaumont, withdrew as his attorney.

Since that time, no further action has been taken on the case.

According to the documents, the Rev. Randy Vaughn filed an Application to Probate Will and for Issuance of Letters of Testamentary which offered the 2007 document as Marshall Jean Nicholson. An order admitting the will to probate was entered on Feb. 6, 2008.

"The factual history of this matter is particularly sordid, and is an unfortunate example of a pastor and a church abusing their positions of trust and authority out of greed, callously praying upon a helpless Church member for monetary gain and inflicting pain and suffering on family members," the complaint states.

Court papers say Marshall Jean Nicholson was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor on Nov. 28, 2007, after she became confused and could not remember specific questions that she was being asked. She died on Dec. 12, 2007, two days after having brain surgery.

Richard Nicholson alleges that prior to her death, "Pastor Vaughn quickly had Ms. Nicholson sign a new will, which not surprisingly left the vast majority of her estate to Pastor Randy Gene Vaughn, his church, Mt Sinai Baptist Church, and his family members."

According to Richard Nicholson, there exists a prior will from February 1992 which left her estate to family members. He alleges that the new will was obtained "in secret."

Since then, both witnesses to the signing and the notary have not cooperated with investigators who tried to determine the will's legitimacy.

Vaughn is represented by Langston Scott Adams of Port Arthur.

Probate Court Cause No. 96,017

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