When 95-year old Helen Plummer, of Baton Rouge, died earlier this year, her family was surprised to learn that she had a will. Much of Plummer’s will is unremarkable. It leaves her modest estate to two young great-grandchildren, in trust, to help pay for college education.
Other aspects of Plummer’s will, however, are quite peculiar. The will names Tasha Clark-Amar — a woman apparently unknown to Plummer’s family— as executor and trustee of Plummer’s estate. The will also provides that Clark-Amar is entitled to be paid $500 per month for her services as trustee — an amount that seems extraordinary given the modest size of the estate.
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The will names Dorothy Jackson — the attorney who prepared the will — as attorney for the will and trust. This provision is unenforceable in Louisiana, but it is not necessarily unusual.
If that was the end of the story, Plummer’s will would not be an issue of public concern. But Clark-Amar and Jackson are public servants whose considerable salaries (much like my own) are largely paid for by taxpayers and/or tuition dollars. Both women provide free services to senior citizens as part of their official duties — and it is in that capacity that both women apparently became acquainted with Plummer. It is also in that capacity that both women apparently assisted in the preparation of a will that sought to benefit them both financially. Such conduct, if true, is reprehensible and perhaps worse. It is also an unfortunate stain on the reputations of the many public servants and attorneys who devote their careers to helping and protecting others.
When these troubling allegations came to light, one would have expected these public figures to apologize, to make restitution, and to beg the public and Plummer’s family for forgiveness. Instead, Clark-Amar sued Plummer’s family for defamation and sought an injunction seeking to silence their outrage. Now, Jackson seeks to be paid the hefty sum of $10,000 by Plummer’s estate for work that should have been done pro bono. To suggest that this conduct is outside the bounds of professionalism is an understatement. It strains the bounds of human decency. As a lawyer and an educator, I am appalled. As a citizen and a taxpayer, I am simply stunned that the institutions employing these individuals continue to do so.
This letter is an expression of my personal opinions and is not made on behalf of LSU or the Law Center.
Elizabeth R. Carter
LSU law professor