Step-siblings in legal dispute over estate funds

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 16, 2011, 4:23am

GALVESTON - The step-siblings of a deceased local man are suing the independent executor of his estate to recover money they believe they are entitled to, recent court documents say.

According to a lawsuit filed July 26 in Galveston County District Court, defendant Robert W. Burke "holds the existing balance of any of the funds deposited with Guaranty Federal Savings Bank previously held by Nelson John Choate in trust for plaintiffs Brenda Lackey and Glenda Scofilia and the other children and stepchildren of Michael and June Radler."

The original petition explains that the Radlers, who lived in La Marque until their respective deaths, accumulated assets which include their residence and funds totaling approximately $146,000 during their lifetime.

Michael Radler met with his daughter, Agnes Strait, and his stepson, Choate, in the late 1990s to assign them control of the funds on deposit with Guaranty after his death.

Those parties apparently agreed that the money was to be retained for the benefit of June Radler, should she survive her husband, for her health, support and maintenance.

The remaining balance of the money was then to be distributed to the couple's children upon her death, the suit says.

After June Radler's passing, Strait carried out the terms of her trust while Choate reportedly elected to withhold the money intended for his late stepparents' children in favor of fixing up the couple's home for a future sale.

"Nelson John Choate retained those funds for the rest of his life, and simply refused to distribute them to the other children and stepchildren of Michael and June Radler," the suit says.

Attorney Thomas W. McQuage of Galveston is representing the plaintiffs, and Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor is presiding over the case.

Case No. 11-cv-1216

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