Yellowhammer News last week broke the story about the legal battle brewing over Joann Bashinsky’s fortune. Bashinsky, wife of Golden Flake founder Sloan Bashinsky, has become one of Alabama’s most faithful philanthropists.
On Tuesday, she released a new statement lambasting former allies allegedly currently trying to seize the fortune – currently estimated to be worth $200 million – through having her declared mentally unfit to manage her finances.
According to an email from Bashinsky, her former attorney and bookkeeper — who had been fired from their responsibilities by Bashinsky — on October 1 filed an emergency petition in the Probate Court of Jefferson County seeking to have her declared incompetent to manage her finances. They alleged that Mrs. Bashinsky had been diagnosed with dementia and that her grandson, her sole heir, has undue influence with her.
Affectionately called “Mama B,” Mrs. Bashinsky on Tuesday also released a letter from her personal physician, Dr. Robert Spiegel, stating that she does not have dementia. According to an email from Bashinsky, she has additionally undergone psychological testing from renowned University of Alabama psychologist Dr. Rebecca S. Allen, who has reportedly concluded that Bashinsky does not suffer from dementia.
After the October 1 filing, Bashinsky alleges that she was never served with a copy of the emergency petition and knew nothing about it until a court-appointed guardian ad litem showed up unannounced at her home on October 4. An emergency hearing was reportedly set on October 8 and ultimately held on October 17. The petitioners purportedly filed a motion to disqualify the attorneys representing Bashinsky and the court granted the motion, removing her attorneys from representing her. The court was said to have then immediately moved forward with the hearing on her competency without allowing Bashinsky time to hire new lawyers.
This meant that despite Bashinsky reportedly having medical experts and other witnesses present and ready in court to testify, she had no attorney to present those witnesses for her.
After the judge subsequently examined the court-appointed representative, the judge immediately ruled in the petitioners’ favor and appointed a temporary conservator and guardian who took control of Bashinsky’s vast fortune and personal affairs.
After this process, another hearing is not scheduled until March 2020. In the meantime, Mrs. Bashinsky has been removed from being chairman of the board of directors of her family’s company and charitable foundation and is living on an allowance dictated and controlled by the temporary conservator.
Bashinsky’s email stated that the petitioners never disclosed to the court that they have a financial interest in her fortune as beneficiaries of her will. They have now allegedly appointed themselves as controlling parties in the charitable foundation and company, which manages the family’s wealth. The petitioners also reportedly receive compensation from those entities and are now free to manage the wealth as they see fit. However, Bashinsky has no control over any of her own wealth and is forced to abide by the restrictions placed upon her by what she deems as former disgruntled employees and strangers.
“I’m heartbroken that I’m in danger of having control of my entire life’s work and personal livelihood seized by people whom I once believed to be close friends and employees of mine,” Mrs. Bashinsky said.
She outlined, “At one point these individuals were going to be large beneficiaries of my estate. Even after it came to light that they were not acting in my best interest and I terminated their services, I wanted to believe they would not take such actions against me for the sake of greed, but they have moved to have me declared unfit to manage my own affairs and the control of my money is in the hands of strangers… at least for now it is.”
Mama B certainly pulled no punches in her statement.
“I never imagined they would turn their grudges over money into such an evil plan,” Baskinsky lamented. “Even though my personal physician and [a] world renowned psychologist at the University of Alabama have declared me competent, they are still trying to leverage the court system to take away my rights as an American and as a human being.”
“I believe all Americans would agree that unless there is irrefutable evidence that someone is a threat to themselves or others, then they should be free to live their life and use their money and resources however they choose – right up until their last moment on earth,” she added.
Baskinsky concluded by warning this is about much more than her, as many elderly Alabamians and Americans with lesser means could face the same kind of alleged mistreatment.
“I have faith that justice will prevail but I also want to use my platform to raise awareness about what is happening to far more too many people as they grow older,” she advised.
“Every person deserves dignity, respect, and freedom, and anyone who threatens those American values should be held accountable,” Bashinsky emphasized. “I am requesting that the media keep a watchful eye on my case to ensure that it is conducted in a responsible and transparent manner. The public needs to know the dangers that I, and all older citizens can be subjected too, all too easily, by people who do not have our best interests at heart.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn