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‘Predatory’: Former allies of Joann Bashinsky file motions against her estate during the late philanthropist’s memorial service

In the case that continues to shake the conscience of Alabama, petitioners have now filed for adverse actions against a dead woman.

Yellowhammer News since fall 2019 has extensively reported on the legal battle in Jefferson County Probate Court involving Joann “Mama B” Bashinsky, the heiress to the Golden Flake fortune and a beloved Alabama philanthropist.

Unfortunately, former allies and employees have allegedly been trying to seize the fortune – estimated to be worth $200 million – through having her declared mentally unfit to manage her finances. The case had seen her assets frozen and Bashinsky not allowed to manage her own affairs, including extensive charitable work she loved to conduct on behalf of Alabama children in dire need.

The Supreme Court of Alabama ruled in favor of Bashinsky in summer 2020, advising that the probate court had “egregiously violated” her “basic due-process rights.” However, the original matter filed in October 2019 was still pending in Jefferson County as of last Sunday, when Bashinsky passed away at the age of 89 following a heart attack.

Through what Bashinsky had decried as an “evil plan” to seize her fortune and livelihood, the last 15 months of her distinguished life were ransacked. It was reported that Mama B, as she was affectionally known, was not even allowed in the weeks before her death to buy Christmas gifts for children in need — a holiday tradition of hers — because of the ongoing legal proceedings against her.

Bashinsky was a longtime supporter of causes such as Big Oak Ranch. She was awarded Yellowhammer News’ Lifetime Service Award in 2018 for her longtime philanthropic achievements and generosity.

Petitioners, led by her former family attorney John P. McKleroy, Jr., have argued that she was suffering from dementia and thus unable to manage her affairs or assets. Her personal physician, Dr. Robert Spiegel, stated that she does not have dementia. She additionally underwent psychological testing from renowned University of Alabama psychologist Dr. Rebecca S. Allen, who reportedly concluded that Bashinsky did not suffer from dementia.

However, to make matters worse, the petitioners have apparently become even more emboldened by Bashinsky’s passing.

On Friday, just as Mama B was being remembered in a memorial service attended by family, friends and other loved ones, she was slapped with new hostile motions in court from the petitioners.

Mourners were reportedly stunned when some of them simultaneously received phone alerts that notice had been served of the motions.

This came after Bashinsky’s estate filed a motion to dismiss the case against her following her death.

The memorial service for Mrs. Bashinsky began at 1:00 p.m. CT on Friday, January 8. The motions by the petitioners, McKleroy and Patty Townsend, were filed starting at 1:08 p.m. CT that day and included:

  • A motion of opposition to both the motion to dismiss filed by Mrs. Bashinsky’s estate following her death and the motion to change parties from the late Mrs. Bashinsky to her estate.
  • A motion to apply sanctions against the late Mrs. Bashinsky for quotes in a news story a week before her death and based on her grandson’s written announcement of Mama B’s death.
  • A motion to seek compensation for attorney’s fees for the cost of filing motions and other expenses.

“This is as predatory and exploitative a case I have ever seen,” stated Joel Blankenship, legal counsel for Bashinsky’s estate. “For the petitioners to continue to pursue this case now after Mama B’s death, including their request for the court to sanction Mama B for allegedly saying that she couldn’t help needy children at Christmastime because of the petition case against her is astonishing. Jurisdiction for this case left when Mama B left this world, but now the petitioners even want to use a heartfelt farewell by her grandson against him when the family is still grieving. We will respectfully appeal to the courts to end this misguided pursuit of Mrs. B and her estate once and for all.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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