Civil suit challenges woman's final will

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Executor denies allegation

By Linda Ireland

A Hodgenville man has filed a civil suit against the woman who served as executor of his mother’s estate.
Bobby Junior Morris claims that Shirley Childress of Mount Sherman took his mother’s assets “for her own use and enjoyment and against the right and interest” of the “rightful heir.”
According to the civil action, Morris’ father, Fred Morris Jr., died Feb. 25, 2010. His mother, Dorothy Ann Morris, died July 4, 2010, at the age of 73. The suit describes Childress as an acquaintance of the family who “assisted (them) in attending to their personal business, including but not limited to, assistance with filing federal and state tax returns, as well as tending to their financial assets and bills.”
The suit was filed Oct. 25 by Greensburg attorney Danny Butler. However, the paperwork was not served to Childress until Jan. 13. Childress’ attorney, Kim Quick of Elizabethtown, filed a response Jan. 24 and 26 in LaRue Circuit Court.
In the response, Childress asks that the claims be “barred and dismissed” and while she agrees she assisted with the preparation of tax returns for the Morris family, she stated she followed the “exact wishes of Dorothy Ann Morris.”
Dorothy Ann Morris drafted a new last will and testament on April 5, after the death of her husband – while Childress served as executor, according to the suit.
Bobby Morris claims that his mother’s “free will” was “destroyed and replaced with the desires of the defendant” and the will “does not reflect the free will (of Dorothy Morris) to dispose of her estate.” He claims also that his mother was not of sound mind when she signed the April 5 will.
Bobby Morris’ attorney, Danny Butler of Greensburg, said Dorothy Ann Morris signed the new will while she was hospitalized.
Childress’ response claims that Dorothy Ann Morris was “of perfectly sound mind” when the new will was executed and she did not exert any improper influence on Morris.
The new will bequeaths Bobby Morris a life estate to house and farmland on Morningstar Road. It also gives Childress a fee simple title to the same farm.
The will bequeathed $100,000 and all personal property to Childress; and $150,000 in a trust fund to Bobby Morris to be paid in $10,000 annual increments. In the event Childress predeceased Dorothy Morris, the property and trusteeship would be divided between other family members.
Childress was appointed executor of the will “to serve with no surety required on her official bond.” She was given the power to “lease or sell any real or personal property that may be included in (the) estate, without order of court and without notice to anyone.”
The will also directed the executor to retain Carl Howell Jr. as attorney to administer the estate.
Bobby Morris appointed his mother and Shirley Childress as attorneys-in-fact on March 22, 2010 and revoked it July 20.
Bobby Morris requests an accounting of all assets owned by his mother at the time of her death, compensatory damages and punitive damages. He also requests the April 5 will be set aside and declared null and void. He asks the court to prevent Childress “from further depleting or otherwise disposing of” his mother’s assets.
Quick claims her client’s constitutional rights are at risk through the lawsuit and the allegations cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
She asks for trial by jury, costs and fees and a court order which allows for attorney fees to be paid from proceeds of Dorothy Ann Morris’ estate.