Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Legal battle continues over late doctor’s remains, estate

Dr. Oscar Michael Reichert died Monday, May 4, but a week later, no funeral, memorial service or visitation has been set.

Officials from a crematorium in Winnsboro report they have his remains.

Bates Cooper Sloan Funeral Home officials report that they don’t yet know if there will be a funeral or memorial service, but if there is one, they will be in charge of the arrangements.

Meanwhile, family members continue what started out over a year ago as a dispute of guardianship and power of attorney over Reichert’s medical decisions and finances. It continues now as a dispute over guardianship of his remains, and power of attorney over his estate reportedly worth several million dollars.

A Texarkana judge reportedly heard arguments Monday and could rule on these matters as early as today.

Reichert’s ex-wife Denise Reichert said Monday, “It’s all still up in the air.”

From his marriage with a first wife, Reichert’s oldest daughter, Brandi Michelle Reichert-Wendt, who lives in the Houston area, is contesting the guardianship of their father’s remains, held by Reichert’s younger daughter, Maegan Reichert Hotaling, who was born from Reichert’s subsequent marriage to Denise Reichert.

Hotaling, of Forney, and her brother James, of Mount Pleasant, according to a motion for authority to dispose of remains, have made arrangements to cremate their father’s remains.

Court records show that Wendt claims she should have guardianship since she is the oldest daughter, and she is petitioning to have an autopsy performed. According to Wendt’s complaint, she will file a lawsuit against the funeral home or crematorium if her father’s remains are cremated.

One legal document asserts that Reichert had asked to be buried by his mother in Franklin, Texas.

That document is one of hundreds of petitions filed in the past year and a half applying for and contesting guardianship of the late Reichert and power of attorney over his estate.

At the time of his death, records show, Reichert was a resident in a memory care assisted-living facility in Rockwall. Records, show, following a massive stroke in December 2013 after day surgery on his sinuses, he had been placed in several care facilities and admitted to hospitals in Longview and Tyler, before being admitted to the Rockwall facility.

According to legal documents filed two days after Reichert’s death, he suffered from various medical conditions including diabetes and pneumonia, prior to his death; and was permanently incapacitated as a result of the stroke.

Hotaling had ward guardianship of her father at the time of his death, but that was being contested.

A certified public accountant, Michael Taylor, had power of attorney over the estate, but his power of attorney was contested before Reichert died.

In August 4, 2014, court documents show that Titus County Judge Brian Lee signed an order appointing James Taylor, an agent of the Family and Court Services of Mount Pleasant, as Reichert’s guardian ad litem to investigate the need for the appointment of a guardian of the person and/or the ward’s estate.

According to court records, Joseph Thompson filed his application for appointment of permanent guardianship of the person and estate on Aug. 2, 2014; and on Aug. 19, 2014, Denise Gail Reichert filed an application to appoint her ex-husband’s guardian.

According to that same court document, later that same day, Judge Lee appointed Maegan Reichert Hotaling as temporary guardian.

Thompson describes himself as one of the late Reichert’s circle of friends and said Friday that he started petitioning the courts regarding Reichert’s legal guardianship because he (Thompson) was concerned for his friend’s welfare.

According to court officials, Lee requested a statutory probate judge to take over the matter.

Taylor was the first of two guardians ad litem appointed for Reichert.

On September 4, 2014, CPA Michael Taylor was appointed guardian of the estate, according to court documents.

According to court records, on Nov. 3, 2014, Lee signed an order appointing as guardian ad litem a licensed social worker, Margaret Webster of Wills Point, to investigate the suitability and eligibility of persons entitled to be guardian and to make recommendations to the court as to the selection of a proposed guardian.  

Legal documents and documented reports from Webster and from doctor’s reports show conflicts over the wishes of Reichert and his ex-wife Denise, over do-not-resuscitate instructions and include mention of concerns about his care and alienation from long-time friends and associates.

Reports from Webster also assert that Reichert was being left alone at the assisted care facility where he was a resident, where he would lock himself in his room alone, circumstances questionably in his best interest since he had reportedly professed and was observed as being depressed and suicidal.

On Dec. 2, 2014, Hotaling filed an application for the appointment of permanent guardianship and on Dec. 8, an application to revoke letters of guardianship and for appointment of a successor guardian was filed.

The social worker appointed to investigate the matter of guardianship filed the report that Maegan Hotaling was requesting appointment as permanent guardian of her father and also requesting the removal of Taylor as the guardian of the estate, and her appointment as successor guardian of the estate.

According to the social worker’s notes, Hotaling’s charges that Taylor was not managing the timely payment of bills resulted because the bills were coming directly to Hotaling instead of Taylor, so he was not seeing the invoices.

According to the case files, Reichert had a monthly income of $26,000 at that time and the estimated value of the estate was in excess of $2.8 million. Another legal document estimated the value of the estate at $3.8 million.

According to the social worker’s findings, “Oscar M.Reichert, proposed ward in this matter, was a long-time physician and resident of the Mount Pleasant community. He was the county health officer at one time as well as a pillar of the community. He reportedly was a simple man who believed in doing and giving to others. His reputation in the community is that of a person always willing to help people whenever he could, whether they were family or not.”

The social worker’s report also read:  “The current temporary guardian (Hotaling) is not appointed permanent guardian of person at this time as I do not feel she would be able to make a decision in the best interest of the proposed ward if it was incongruent with the wishes of her family. The best interest of the proposed ward would be better served by a volunteer guardianship program, such as Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas or a private professional guardian. Should the court appoint Maegan Hotaling as guardian of the person, it is strongly recommended that the court appoint a monitor in the matter to ensure the best interests of Dr. Reichert is served.”

The social worker recommended that Michael Taylor remain as guardian of the estate, and also recommended that the guardian seek an appropriate facility in the Mount Pleasant area to facilitate in returning Reichert to his community.

After Wendt filed for appointment as guardian of her father in April, 2015, her half-sister Maegan Hotaling filed an objection, according to court records. Denise Reichert had also applied for guardianship as had Joseph Thompson.

Wendt’s application claimed since she was the oldest child, she should have priority over her sister.

In March, 2015, more complaints, contests and applications were filed.

Court case files show that on Jan. 8 of this year, Reichert fell in the hallway at the assisted living center on Rockwall and said he hit his head. At that time, he was on Coumadin blood-thinning medication. The nurse’s notes in the court records show that the family was notified, but refused transport to the hospital and signed a refusal form.

Medical records in the court documents regarding his death describe the death “from natural causes.”

Guardians ad litem James Taylor and Margaret Webster responded to interview requests for this article with limited information as required by law. Denise Reichert said in a phone call that no funeral arrangements would be made until everything was settled, and that the parties had been before a judge Monday. Brandi Reichert Wendt and Maegan Reichert Hotaling did not return phone calls.

Full Article & Source: 
Legal battle continues over late doctor’s remains, estate


StandUp said...

The lawyers must have been jumping for joy over this case.

Damian said...

This is an easy fix. Cremate the poor man and divide his ashes among the family, letting each person bury him as they see fit.