Monday, March 30, 2009

Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Evelyn and Diana Sakow were told that they were impoverished after their father died in 1956. At the time he died, Diana was 15, Evelyn 20, and Walter 25. They were never told about the will which divided his estate between his wife and his three children. A trust fund was supposed to be established for his daughters until they turned 23, but they never received a penny from the estate. The girls grew up, put themselves through school, and went on to become teachers.

In the early 1980s Diana and Evelyn learned of the will and its contents, and in 1984 instituted a compulsory accounting procedure against their mother and brother. The sisters claimed fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

Their older brother Walter with the knowledge of their mother, had built an empire from their father's estate and left the two out completely.

Quoted from the article - The “conspiracy to deny us our inheritance destroyed my family, broke my heart and left me with scars that I have painfully struggled with and have not fully overcome even now, after all these years,” Diana, 68, said in a recent affidavit.

What ensued was a 25 years of litigation where eventually the sisters were awarded one-third rights to nine-properties. Two have been sold and the other seven are the subject of what is probably the last battle in the decades-long fight.

The properties had an estimated value of about 11.3 million two years ago. Walter wants a quick sale, but the real estate values have declined so much that the sisters believe he is trying to force a sale so that he can buy them back at basement level prices. The holdings include the 62-unit Rose Garden apartment building on Pelham Parkway named after their mother. The sisters have asked the courts to divide the properties among the three siblings.

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