How much trouble can you get into for forging a will?

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John and Lisa discuss a local case where an individual forged a will. There are many fears and misconceptions associated with dying without a will. Does the state really take everything? How does this affect the family members left behind?

John

Hey, everybody. About to get started. Just getting all the computer and everything set up.

John

Gotta get the computer recording everything.

John

All right, I think I finally got all of that figured out. We should have a good show today, I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment at the bottom, like it, share it, all of that sort of stuff. That helps us out, so please do it.

John

Or you can put your question in the comments if you want, you don't have to call in.

Lisa

Well, welcome, everyone, to "Aging Insight." I'm Lisa Shoalmire. I'm here live in the studio with John Ross. You know, John, we're recording this show, we're still, I guess, a little cool outside, a little February weather, but...

John

Yeah, it's a little cool outside but I did manage to get over to the Brengo Lake SP trail this morning and go for a nice multi-mile trail run.

Lisa

Well, that's not even a humble brag, that's just a brag.

John

That's just straight-up bragging. inaudible 01:26

Lisa

That's great. You beat everybody that was laying on the coach.

John

That's right. Hey, get busy living. It's good stuff out there, you know. Of course, we gotta get our... whatever we want done on a Saturday, we gotta either get it done early or get it done late.

Lisa

That's right, because every Saturday, we're here at noon, or nearly every Saturday.

John

That's just about.

Lisa

Yeah. But this is "Aging Insight," and on "Aging Insight," we talk about all kinds of things, legal things, financial things, health, and housing issues that affect seniors, that affect people who hope to be seniors someday, people who are retired or would like to be retired. And, you know, really, John, I don't know of any other focused source of information like this, I mean, anywhere.

John

Really, anywhere, yeah. No, that's exactly right. We've kinda got a corner on the market here, at least to my knowledge. You know, we do the show and we get comments from people all the time out in the community, and, you know, they tell us how much they like it. Of course, we can only do this show because of the generosity of our sponsors that make this show happen.

Lisa

Right. So give a special thanks to The Barnett Agency, and Dierksen Memorial Hospice, Cowhorn Creek Estates, Christus St. Michael's. I know Christus has been pretty busy with all that flu stuff that's going around.

John

Yeah, no, that's right.

Lisa

Texarkana Funeral Home, Red River Federal Credit Union, Heritage Plaza and Reunion Plaza Nursing and Rehab Facilities, as well as the Twin City Rehab, thank you very much. That helps us get the word out on Saturdays.

John

That's right. And, of course, you know, we do this live, you can call in, it's 903-793-1071. You can also go to the Ross and Shoalmire Facebook page, R-O-S-S A-N-D S-H-O-A-L-M-I-R-E, Ross and Shoalmire on Facebook, where we do this Facebook Live, you can see what radio looks like.

Lisa

That's right. Well, John, so...

John

Hello to our only Facebook Live viewer we have right at the moment.

Lisa

Right this second. Well, of course, John, the great thing is we've a lot of people go back and watch the shows, and I had a client just this week that was nowhere near retirement. I was doing some business stuff for him and he's a young man really blowing and going, and, you know, creating jobs and making the economy go good, and doing some stuff for him. And he said that he happened to come across the "Aging Insight" Facebook Live and he said, "I clicked on just to kinda see what it was all about," and he said, "I ended up watching for half an hour." He said he thought we had a good personality for it.

John

Awesome.

Lisa

I appreciate that. But, John, this week, I had the opportunity to go speak at the Four States Ag Expo. That was this past...that was Thursday, Thursday out at the Four States Fairgrounds here in Texarkana. I had to speak to a group of people on estate planning for farm families, ranches. We have a lot of agricultural families around that run cows and chicken houses, and they timber and all kinds of stuff. So I got a chance to go out and talk to that group about it.

John

That's right. You know, a lot of times those...particularly those land assets mean so much more to people than a cash equivalent.

Lisa

Right. Oh yeah. You know, I talk to people all the time that, you know, that land has been in the family for generations. And you know, it's not about the value of the dirt as much as it is about the sentimental value of the dirt.

John

Sure, absolutely.

Lisa

So I just wanted to let folks know that we're always out there in the community, that's where I was this week. John, you got anything coming up?

John

Yeah, I guess I'm speaking on Monday over at the Texarkana Library, for an organization called Altrusa.

Lisa

Altrusa, yes, they are a... Altrusa is a community service organization made up of ladies, and they are very active in our Texarkana area. I know they do a lot of things with opportunities and some other non-profits. But it's just a nice support. So those ladies... I'm sure they'll enjoy hearing you and seeing you, so that will be good.

John

Yeah, that's probably right, so lots of stuff going on. And, of course, kind of a just an interesting thing from today, Lisa, you were telling me about earlier this morning that from the time the Berlin Wall was erected...

Lisa

Wait, is this gonna be our fun fact?

John

This is our fun fact of the day.

Lisa

Okay, so fun fact, yes.

John

So from the time the Berlin Wall was erected...

Lisa

So it was erected...and I don't have it up in front of me, but it was like 1961 or something like that?

John

Yeah, something like that.

Lisa

And it came down... and I do remember this, the Berlin Wall came down in November of 1989.

John

Right.

Lisa

So I was reading this article and it said that the Berlin Wall stood for 10,000-plus days. And of course, I know our listeners know this, but it was a wall that was built in Berlin to separate East and West Germany and the Russians controlled the East, and the West, you know...

John

That's right, for all our millennial listeners.

Lisa

Yes, who, this is ancient history. But yeah, the fun fact is as of Monday, February 5th, the Berlin Wall will have been down as long as it had been up. So as many days as it was up, coming up on Monday, it will now have been down for the same amount of days.

John

Yeah, pretty neat, you know, and I bet that's a...I thought that was a pretty shocking little thing.

Lisa

I know, your response is "Wow."

John

Wow, and particularly, I think, for a lot of our clients that, you know, probably both remember its erection and its destruction. The building of the Berlin Wall is history to me, but the taking it down part of something that...

Lisa

You lived through.

John

Yeah, that I lived through.

Lisa

Yeah, no.

John

So many of our clients lived through both.

Lisa

Right, we have a lot of veterans that we visit with that I call Cold War veterans.

John

Yeah, Cold War era, seeing a lot of those right now.

Lisa

And they were in service or they were activated if they were in the reserves because, you know, the Berlin Wall went up overnight, and the Bay of Pigs, and all that stuff. But that's just our fun fact.

John

That's just a fun fact, that's not what we're talking about today or anything. What we're talking about today is a little piece from some relatively local news.

Lisa

That's right, John. You know, a lot of times we like to tell stories just because they're interesting and the players and the issues are interesting, but so many times those stories are from cases that happened out in California.

John

Sure.

Lisa

You know, like the gentleman who sent his father in law off on a...

John

The exploding boat.

Lisa

Yeah, a funeral pyre.

John

Yes, a Viking funeral. That was not locally.

Lisa

Yeah, that was out in California. You know, and occasionally we even talk about cases that arise out of Dallas. I think we talked recently about a case where the largest jury verdict ever against a bank acting as a trustee and fiduciary was...

John

That was out of Dallas.

Lisa

Was out of Dallas. But you know, sometimes some of our listeners go, "Oh, that stuff can't happen here," but they're so wrong.

John

Yeah, they're wrong.

Lisa

Now, it doesn't always make the news but we see plenty of it happening here, so we wanna talk about a case today that is out of Ouachita County, Arkansas.

John

Yeah, up there in Camden way.

Lisa

Up there in Camden. Funny thing, John, one time I was watching "Jeopardy," you know, with Alex Trebek. And the clue had something to do with Ouachita, and Alex Trebek said "Ouacheeta." Yeah, I know, Alex wasn't looking good to me. He looks so smart but "Ouacheeta."

John

Not there.

Lisa

But the case we're gonna talk about today comes out of Ouachita County, Arkansas, and it's got all the elements, John. It's got money, it's got, dare I say, sex.

John

Dare.

Lisa

I think that's okay to say on the radio.

John

I think it is.

Lisa

It's got crimes and forgery.

John

It's got crimes, oh yes, got all kinds of good stuff.

Lisa

And that was right here in our backyard.

John

Yeah, right up the road. In fact, I was in Magnolia just this last week, which is...

Lisa

Yeah, where...

John

Not that far away.

Lisa

So John, why don't you kind of set this up.

John

You know, here's the deal. And I just want you to kinda maybe put yourself in a situation, so I'm gonna spin a web here. And so let's say you've got a close person to you, maybe it's a spouse, maybe it's a child, maybe it's a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or close person to you, right. Somehow you have this close connection to this person. This person dies unexpectedly, very unexpectedly, and what you realize relatively quickly is... you know when a younger person dies, particularly unexpectedly, they probably didn't get around to doing any estate planning.

Lisa

Yeah, I know getting a will done is not on top of most 30-year-olds' lists.

John

Right, and you've heard stories out there, you've heard that, geez, if you die without a will the state's gonna take everything, or maybe you know this person's situation and you're thinking you know, geez, they only have the one minor child, and the minor child's baby momma is a train wreck...

Lisa

So, no, they wouldn't want that.

John

They wouldn't want... whatever's about to happen, you just... you know with certainty that that's not what that person would have wanted.

Lisa

Yeah, this close relation, this close friend, this close companion.

John

If they'd had the chance to plan for it they just wouldn't have failed, like they did. And you start thinking, "But surely it can't be too late."

Lisa

So the person is dead, right.

John

They're dead, but you're thinking, "Surely it can't be too late. Maybe... I mean..."

Lisa

To do it like they wanted.

John

To do it like they wanted. I know what they would have wanted, and maybe if...you know, if I just drew up a will, I mean, how hard can it be? I'll get the computer or something. I mean, I know it's gotta be witnessed and I've got some friends that...

Lisa

They know just like I do.

John

They know me and they know I'm a good, honest person.

Lisa

And they know this deceased person too, and they know that, you know, they would do it like this too if they could.

John

That's right. Maybe even one of them is a notary.

Lisa

A notary friend, that's helpful.

John

Maybe even a notary friend or something, and you start thinking, you know, probably the best thing here is just to... even though this person died without a will, maybe you're thinking, "Well, I think maybe probably the best thing here is to just fake one."

Lisa

You know, John, I'm sure people do think that. But you know, it's coming from the right place. I mean, you're trying to...

John

Sure, there's definitely no greed or anything else in it, we're talking pure wholesome values across the board every single time.

Lisa

Trust me, if you have those thoughts then you should turn on the TV and mind numb yourself until you quit having those thoughts. But we have a story here where somebody did have those thoughts and decided to do exactly what John was talking about.

John

Yeah, because you might be thinking... you know, you might say, "Well, you know what, okay, look, I could forge this will," right...

Lisa

Well, they're not thinking "forge."

Lisa

Lisa

For their benefit

John

For their benefit, right. So we're doing this for their benefit, of course after they're dead and they can't express what they want anyway, but this is what we're gonna do. But you might even start thinking to yourself... well, I mean, come on, really. "If we get this Will done and everybody buys it, well then it's gonna work out great, and if it doesn't, I mean, really, what's the big deal?"

Lisa

Yeah, what's the big deal? But the big deal, John, is criminal.

John

Yes, the big deal is, in fact, a big deal.

Lisa

State crimes, federal crimes, all kinds of crimes.

John

Yes. So, all right, so that's the setup. Now, when we come back from the break, we're gonna talk about the real facts of this case that...

Lisa

From right down the road.

John

From right down the road. That will carry us probably through the next two segments of the show, and when we get to the end, we'll try talk about a little bit of what you oughta learn from this if you hadn't figured it out before this.

Lisa

Right. I was about to say, spoiler alert, don't do it, but we'll get there.

John

That's right. All right, stick around, we'll be right back. All right, and we're clear on the radio, of course, still live on Facebook.

Lisa

What could possibly be going through somebody's head to...I mean, unfortunately, I've known a person or two who have attempted to do this personally.

John

It does happen.

Lisa

It does happen.

John

It does happen. We have...you know, Lisa, I mean between the two of us, we got, what, close to 40 years of law practice under our belts, and if you add the other attorneys in the firm, you've got 60 or so.

Lisa

Sixty, yeah.

John

That much time talking to this many people as we do about family situations like this, we're gonna have seen just about everything. So every time we see these stories, although we look at them and we laugh about how dumb these people are...

Lisa

Rocket science.

John

But we're never really surprised by it.

Lisa

Not anymore, we're a bit jaded, you know, and...

John

You know, the bank robbing the folks in Dallas and getting sued, not surprised, somebody faking a will, not surprised, somebody loading their dad with dynamite and floating him out into a river for a Viking...

Lisa

That was surprising.

John

That's surprising. Yeah, I was not expecting that one.

Lisa

Yeah, we haven't had that happen locally. You know, obviously, most people get, you know, forging a legal document, not such a good idea, but we have seen it happen multiple times, not just once in our career but...

John

On multiple times.

Lisa

Multiple times. Wills, life insurance, beneficiary designations.

John

Deeds, powers of attorney.

Lisa

Debt forgiveness, loan forgiveness.

John

Loan forgiveness. Oh, yeah.

Lisa

That's a big one. Yeah, so stuff like that happens. And, John, I guess the question really is, as many times as we've seen that it happened, how many times have we not caught it?

John

And that's the interesting question, is how many times did it just roll for...

Lisa

Yeah, how many people got away with it?

John

Yeah, and we might even talk about that a little bit at the end, but, yeah, this case is a great example of how well it can go bad.

Lisa

Yes, so inaudible 17:53 .

John

So it looks like we've got about 20 seconds, then we're gonna go back live on the radio, we're gonna start talking about the case here, and get into some of the facts, interesting stuff, all right. Let y'all listen to the intro music here.

John

Welcome to "Aging Insight," everybody. You're back listening to John and Lisa. Today, our topic on "Aging Insight" is why you shouldn't forge a will.

John

Lisa; Okay, if you needed some reasons, we're gonna give you some today.

John

We're gonna give you some. And from a great case, an interesting case from right up the road in Camden, Arkansas, and...

Lisa

Yes, a beautiful place, Camden. Pretty rural setting.

John

I think a lot of that area is pretty nice up there.

Lisa

There's a great...just a little aside, there's a great wedding barn out there called Whippoorwill owned by some people we know, so check it out, Whippoorwill. So there, we'll give that shout out. But this case comes out of Camden, Arkansas. And so, John, we have a young man, and by a young man, I mean he's in his 30s, early 30s.

John

Yeah, early 30s. Matthew Seth Jacobs.

Lisa

Yeah, Matthew Seth Jacobs. So we're gonna call him Jacobs, but he was in...you know, sadly, he's deceased now, but, you know, he survived the 2010 Deep Horizon well...

John

Explosion.

John

Yeah, the Deep Water Horizon explosion, he was there, was injured, apparently, from this.

Lisa

Explosion down the gulf.

Lisa

Was injured but survived, but you know, because there's a lot of litigation that went on with that well explosion down there, a lot of people died, terrible oil spill, all that. He received a sizable settlement a couple of years after the explosion. So explosion happened in 2010, he received about a $2 million settlement for his injuries in 2012, so...

John

So pretty good little chunk there.

Lisa

Yeah, especially for a young man his early 30s there. So he decided to buy himself a home, and also buy some other investment property, so other houses.

John

And at this time, he was apparently engaged to a woman, and he had a child although, I don't know that that was the same person.

Lisa

So he did have a child, so he already had a son, but the engagement thing didn't work out.

John

It didn't really work out, but in buying the house and getting into some of these rental properties, he apparently got to know his real estate agent pretty well.

Lisa

Yes, his real estate agent, gosh, Herring, was Donna Herring. She was a real estate agent in Camden, Arkansas, and she helped Jacobs locate his home and get that purchased and the investment properties. And apparently, you know, she was well known, well regarded in the community and became kind of a guide here to Jacobs.

John

And Herring had a daughter as well.

Lisa

Yes, real estate Herring had a daughter, although she was quite young, she was a teenager.

John

Yeah, at the beginning of all this, about 16 or so.

John

Her name was Alex.

Lisa

About 16.

Lisa

Yes, so the real estate agent decided when Jacobs' engagement broke up, so I've got this 30-plus-year-old man, his engagement is off, well, the real estate agent said, "Well I have a 16-year-old daughter..."

John

Yeah, why don't you get involved with her?

Lisa

Yes, that's a whole other crime, perhaps, but that's not our topic today. But apparently...

John

It is Arkansas...no, that's too easy.

Lisa

Yeah, too easy. So apparently there was...and I don't know when this relationship exactly started. Apparently, the teenage girl became Jacobs' housekeeper and I don't know what.

John

Yes, and in fact, I think the real estate agent ultimately ended up even living in one of Mr. Jacobs' homes, so one of his rental properties or something.

John

John

All of this leads up to basically January 19th, 2015.

Lisa

So Jacobs ends up dying in a car wreck in 2015, and John, that's where your setup comes in. So we have a young man who had not made a will, who has this close connection with this fiancee, whose, you know, mother is greatly involved in all of his dealings, and there's no will.

John

That's right, and I'm just telling you, 34-year-olds die without wills, most of the time. In fact, most people die without a will anyway. But it's it's almost impossible to get somebody that age to do any estate planning.

Lisa

So anyway, mom here, Herring, she's not dumb, so she figures, "Hey, there's $2 million sitting on the table here."

John

"Something's gotta be done with it." Stick around, we'll be right back. So our lady here, Donna...

Lisa

It's always the little real estate pictures, you know, with the hair and the lighting and all that.

John

Yeah, a lot of real estate agents have a look about them.

Lisa

Yeah, so there you go.

John

So this is our this is our lady, this is Donna Herring, I don't have a picture of the daughter. I do have a picture of the other one there, Mr. Jacobs.

Lisa

So yeah, there's Mr. Jacob. What a tough run. I mean, of course, he's deceased now, but he survived 2010 disaster of national proportions.

John

Yeah, making a movie out of it or did make a movie.

Lisa

They did make a movie.

John

Made movie out of it.

Lisa

And get a settlement, and of course, $2 million goes a long way in Camden, Arkansas.

John

It does, yeah.

Lisa

But it probably did make him quite the eligible bachelor. But it kind of makes you wonder why that other engagement didn't work out exactly, but for whatever reason. But apparently Miss Herring, the real estate lady, maybe she saw an opening to make a social introduction to her daughter, so that that money could stay right there, you know, in the family, so to speak.

John

And I'm sure she had all kinds of justifications, but we'll get a little bit into that here in a second once we get back on the radio, but...

Lisa

Apparently Jacobs died in a one-vehicle accident, and he was driving his jeep down the road, he was not far from his house, he...

John

The statement from the police rec was, "On the night of the fatal auto wreck, the police report indicated that Matthew was driving on a 'dry, clear, and straight road that was only a few minutes from his home.'" And then there the police report goes on to say that "There were no signs of braking prior to impact with a tree." I mean, sounds to me like fell asleep.

Lisa

Yeah, sounds like he fell asleep. Does it say he crossed the line?

John

Says yeah, he crossed the line across incoming traffic and then hit a tree, none of the time braking. I mean, to me, that's like probably falling asleep.

Lisa

Yeah, there's not been any...

John

And as somebody who travels some of the back roads of Arkansas, it's easy to fall asleep out there.

Lisa

And those roads...of course, that was a straight road, they said, but gosh, there's no shoulders, there's, you know, you're right there so... Yeah, there was no indication about any foul play or anything like that in the car wreck that took Jacobs' life, but obviously very unexpected. The other part, John, is that at the time of his death the engagement with the young lady, the Herring's daughter, had allegedly been called off. I don't really...it's hard to tell.

John

It's hard to tell, but there was some indication that he was at least maybe dating somebody else at the time of the death.

Lisa

Well, maybe he decided that an 18-year-old and his 34-year-old didn't have a lot to talk about.

John

I can understand that. All right we got 10 seconds and we're going back live on the radio. Appreciate you all sticking with us during our radio commercial breaks.

Lisa

Well, welcome back, everyone, to "Aging Insight." I'm Lisa Shoalmire here with John Ross. And today, we're talking about a...what do they call it? A titillating story that comes from right down the road in Camden, Arkansas, Ouachita County. And so we set up the players in this deal, we have Jacobs who was a young man who had come into some money because of his injuries. He had received a couple million bucks. We have Donna Herring, who is his real estate agent and perhaps future mother-in-law.

John

Perhaps.

Lisa

We have Donna Herring's daughter Alex, who is a romantic interest, by the reports.

John

Although quite young.

Lisa

Very young. And then we had Jacobs dying very suddenly, unexpectedly in a car accident in January 2015.

John

Right, and remember that Mr. Jacobs had a child.

Lisa

Yes he had a son who was a teenager himself.

John

Right, a 17-year-old son named Jordan. And essentially, you know, if you die intestate...

Lisa

Which means without a will.

John

...which means without a will, in the state of Arkansas, essentially all of your property is going to your child.

Lisa

Yeah, if you're not married and all that, just like in the Jacobs case, all of his estate would have gone to his son Jordan.

John

Right, and that makes plenty good sense, the idea that if you dy without a will that everything's gonna escheat to the state, that's just...

Lisa

That's just wrong.

John

That's just wrong.

Lisa

So following his death, Jacobs' 17-year-old son and his brother go to his home and search his home, including... he had a gun safe where he kept, you know, important things. They searched his home and gun safe looking for a will, but did not find one. And so Donna Herring, the real estate lady, she claimed to know there was a sealed envelope.

John

Yes, a magic sealed envelope.

Lisa

Which...

John

Which she had seen before and it had some initials on the outside.

Lisa

Yeah, with the initials of M.J. for Matthew Jacobs on it. And so she arranged to go back into the house to go look at the same gun safe that had already been reviewed.

John

That's right.

Lisa

And there was a will!

John

Tada!

Lisa

And the great thing about it is, John, I love this, is that Herring had a family friend or whatever come over and take pictures of the opening of the safe, and seeing the envelope in there, that should have been everybody's first red flag. She had told this family friend that she needed...that her lawyer had told her that she needed to have a disinterested person there to see all that. And that's just...you protest too much.

John

Yeah, that's exactly right. People often ask whether or not they should videotape the execution of a will so that there will be some record of it later. And the answer is no.

Lisa

Yeah, no, I do not recommend this.

John

In large part, there's...well, there's a million things, we can go into it, but just having it on video does not provide any veracity to it because at least in theory, the person standing on the other side of the video camera could be holding a gun at you.

John

John

And again, we're talking about...I think the total value was around $2 million.

Lisa

Yeah, so everything in the estate, according to this will, was to go to Alex Herring, other than the $50,000 to Jacobs' son. This will was...it was a typewritten will and it was witnessed by Herring's sister, Diane, and Diane's husband, John Wayne.

John

John Wayne.

Lisa

John Wayne.

John

Diane Kinley and John Wayne Kinley.

Lisa

So we have the sister and brother-in-law as the witnesses to the will. It was notarized, and the will was filed for probate in Ouachita County, Arkansas, and accepted into probate.

John

Yeah, it did apparently appoint the daughter, Alex, as well, as the executrix.

Lisa

Now, that's hilarious because at the time the will was supposedly made...because remember, Jacobs is dead, you can't make a will after you're dead.

John

Right, but the will was predated...

Lisa

2014.

John

So about a year before death.

Lisa

Yes, and apparently, Alex, the alleged fiance, romantic interest of Mr. Jacobs, who's very young, she was actually a minor in 2014.

John

Right, she would either have been maybe 16 or 17 at that point, but certainly ineligible to serve as an executor.

Lisa

Yeah, so that wasn't a good move. Anyway, so they ended up appointing Jacobs' brother to serve as the executor in November of 2015. So Jacobs died in January 2015, executor was appointed November 2015, and, gosh, a million bucks of funds in real estate and all kinds of stuff were awarded to Alex.

John

Yeah. I mean, apparently the will has passed through the basic process of administration and assets are getting distributed, it looks like.

Lisa

Yeah. So in March of 2016, Donna Herring used some of the money from the estate to purchase a Lexus.

John

Yeah, might as well.

Lisa

So this apparently went on until, John, they figured out Jordan Jacobs, this is the son, he somehow figured out that this will was produced with a internet will company following his dad's death.

John

You know what happens when you do stuff on computers?

Lisa

These days everything gets saved into the cloud.

John

Yeah, and in fact, it appears...and based on what they figured out was that using money somehow through all of this, using money, a form will was purchased off of some website called formswift.com. A form will was purchased off of there five days...

Lisa

Five days.

John

...after his death, purchased with the Kinleys' bank account.

Lisa

So this is the...

John

The witnesses.

Lisa

Yeah, the sister and the brother-in-law.

John

And then apparently it looks like the form will was then filled in on the computer...

Lisa

At the real estate office?

John

At the real estate office where Donna worked.

Lisa

All right. So once this all came down...and apparently, there was a couple of different copies of this will, there was a fax copy, and then the actual copy submitted to the court, and they varied a little bit.

John

Yeah, they varied a little bit.

Lisa

Which, you know, if there's only one will then a fax copy and the real thing they're not going to vary. So ultimately Herring was interviewed by the FBI.

John

When I first heard this, my first question was, "How do the FBI get involved in this deal?"

Lisa

Because probate is a state issue.

John

It's a state deal. If you're defrauding two Arkansas residents, you know...

Lisa

That's just an Arkansas problem.

John

If Arkansas person is defrauding other Arkansas person, you know, what's the deal? And I think basically what the deal here is, as soon as she faxed that forgery...

Lisa

You think so?

John

We have wire fraud.

Lisa

Wire fraud, yeah.

John

Soon as she faxed a forged will it became wire fraud and now it's the FBI. Make no mistake, folks out there...

Lisa

Regardless of what's going on currently in the federal law enforcement world...

John

There are so many things that are crimes out there that if the feds would like to arrest you for something, you have committed a crime that is an arrestable offense.

Lisa

Yeah, there's actually a book about that called "Three Felonies A Day" that we all commit felonies. So if the prosecutors...so be friends with your prosecutors, people. If they don't like you, they can find something to get you on. Anyhoo, so apparently Herring knew the jig was up. She admitted to the forgery, her sister and brother-in-law admitted that they witnessed this will, so to speak, days after Jacobs had died, so...

John

But of course, she only done it...

Lisa

Yeah, this is my favorite part. Donna Herring only did the forged will because she found the actual will, and it left nothing to Jordan Jacobs...

John

His son.

Lisa

The decedent's son.

John

Saying she saw that and she just couldn't have that.

Lisa

So she re-did the whole thing so it least gave him $50,000.

John

That's right, that's bold right there.

Lisa

That is bold. I have another word in my mind, but anyway... So apparently I guess trial or sentencing or something for Donna Herring will be in February.

John

Right, because you know, of course, the FBI prosecuted them, prosecuted Donna for various things, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and I think there was actually several different charges against both her and Alex.

Lisa

And her daughter Alex. And, you know, you depend on your mom not to, you know, involve you in committing federal and state crimes.

John

I would think that's probably the same.

Lisa

Especially if you're a young person. And of course, I don't know any of these personally but, you know, I'd like to give younger people the benefit of doubt and that they aren't as jaded and, you know, evil-minded. So this young Alex, she's now got her own criminal problems. Maybe she participated, maybe her mama led her down the wrong road. I don't know.

John

Yeah, I don't know, but there's a civil suit against them... inaudible 39:15 Whoops, that took us away from the broadcast. Meanwhile, with the civil suit, the FBI prosecuted, they charged them, originally they pled not guilty, and this was set for a full-on jury trial.

Lisa

That doesn't hardly happen in federal court anymore.

John

You know, when I was in law school I had a criminal defense class... well, not a criminal defense class, criminal defense attorney teaching a class on criminal law. And he said something one time that always stuck with me. He said, "You just never, ever, ever, wanna see the United States versus your name."

John

Because you're gonna lose.

Lisa

That's...

Lisa

Yeah, I saw something like 97% of federal indictments plead out because nobody will go to trial.

John

Right, you are going to lose.

Lisa

So anyway, the story hasn't quite concluded yet and we still have some criminal sentencing and stuff involved, but it's probably time for our next break. And let's take that break and come back, and we'll see what lessons we can learn from Ouachita County, Arkansas.

John

That's right, stick around.

Lisa

Yeah, a couple of those lessons...

Lisa

A couple of those lessons... John, there's some lessons in this that I could be like, you know, "Here's how you could have committed this crime better."

John

Had to get us off the live radio first.

John

Right.

Lisa

But I'm not gonna give those lessons.

John

I mean, you can certainly point out some stupid in here though.

Lisa

Yes, making the minor teenager the executor of the will, nobody would do that, that's just...nobody.

John

I will say, here's a sample for something I had drafted the other day. I had a husband and wife, they have two adult children and then they have a granddaughter who's about 17, is doing very well in high school, just a great kid or whatever. And I was talking to them about appointing the two kids, and they said, "Well, we want the granddaughter as a backup." And I put her on there as a backup...

Lisa

As a backup.

John

Figuring she'd be there eventually, you know.

John

Welcome back to "Aging Insight," everybody. This is your host John Ross live in the studio.

John

Live with Lisa Shoalmire, we're talking about the case of the estate of...

Lisa

Were live.

Lisa

The Jacobs estate.

John

...Jacobs. And basically how Donna Herring, his real estate agent and friend and mother of at least some romantic interest, forged a will after his death.

Lisa

Yeah, so...

John

Stay with us.

Lisa

You know, I just think about, like... you know how the "Scooby Doo" cartoons you know, the Scooby Doo gang would track down the criminal and unmask them, you know, John, how that always ended? It always had the criminal after being unmasked saying, you know, "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those darn kids."

John

That's right.

Lisa

I think this is very apt in this Jacobs case, because, you know, I don't know the inside about how Jacobs' son was able to determine this. I do know that they kept looking for her his dad's iPhone, and Alex kept saying she didn't have it, you know, she didn't know. But when they eventually got into the iCloud, somehow that's where they ended up finding some these documents, I believe. I may be telling wrong about that, but I think that's how that went down. But Donna Herring, she almost got away with it.

John

Yeah.

John

John

That's right. And not just for Donna, here, but you know, the criminal side of this, you know, we've got daughter and her daughter Alex who are about to be sentenced for the crimes they have now pled guilty to. In addition to that is the civil lawsuit, and the civil lawsuit as defendants names, of course, Donna, Alex, but Donna's husband.

Lisa

The...

John

The two witnesses.

Lisa

The twp witnesses.

John

The Kinleys. And Davis, who was just the guy that went over to the house with her.

Lisa

Yeah, to watch the safe be opened.

John

To watch the safe be opened. Basically, everybody that participated in this charade.

Lisa

Right. And John, I have seen this happen, I've had clients come to the office and tell me how sick or fragile or unable to get out about their loved one is. And their loved one wants to do a will that leaves everything to them, and could we just prepare that? And they'll get that taken care of. Not...I'd rather make a house call than prepare a will and give it someone. I'm never gonna prepare a will for someone...of course, this is obviously somebody still living, if I haven't talked to them and heard from them exactly what they want. But, you know, in this case, we have a lot of people that they knew, everybody knew, I mean the sister and brother-in-law, they knew Jacobs was deceased, they knew what they were doing, signed it off.

Lisa

Lisa

I'll give it to the neighbor, poor guy, you know, he said, you know, "I've known Donna Herring forever, she's been a close family, she just asked me to come over and watch them open this gun safe and I did. And I didn't know what was in the envelope, I had nothing to do with it." So I think he... that's the case, I think he'll be all right.

John

Yeah, he'll probably end up getting dismissed as you know, there's nothing there for him.

Lisa

But...

John

The rest of them are gonna him get hit in this deal.

Lisa

Well, and here's the other part of it. So they have... in the civil suit they've asked for a freeze on all the assets, the bank accounts, the real estate, the cars, everything that has connected to or a fruit of this estate, they've asked it all to be frozen. So that all these cases can be worked and the court can then... should it find that those assets should be given over to the son Jordan. But if they spent some of that money, I mean, if they've gone to the boats, if they've gone to some vacations, some of this money is gone...

John

Some money is gonna be gone.

Lisa

And that's the civil suit. So the sister and brother-in-law, who may have not spent any of this money, had any benefit from at all, but because they signed this will...

John

They made it happen.

Lisa

They are likely to have assets of their own taken from them if they have available assets to go to Jordan Jacobs here to satisfy and try to make him whole after what Donna Herring has...

John

Perpetuated?

Lisa

Perpetuated, that's what I was looking for.

John

There you go.

Lisa

Anyway, so folks, sometimes you will have people... and I've seen this happen, your close friend, your, you know, whatever will ask you to sign as a witness to do something with some paperwork, just don't do it, just...you know, just don't do it.

John

Right, just don't do it.

Lisa

Because sometimes we have retirement forms or life insurance forms that when they designate beneficiaries they want a witness on those documents as well, and so if somebody brings you a form that says, "Well, my mom already signed this. Can you witness?" You need to say no.

John

Yeah the answer is no.

Lisa

No.

John

No.

Lisa

Sorry, can't do it.

John

And you know, even in a situation where you're thinking, "Well, this person, they're an only child, or this is their spouse and they don't have any kids," or whatever. But you're looking at the situation and you're thinking to yourself, you know, "Really, what is the harm here? There's nobody else that's gonna be damaged by this." But you don't know that.

Lisa

Yes, you just don't know.

John

You just don't know that, and you don't know what else is out there, you don't know why they may have done something one way or the other, or why they failed to do stuff, you know...

Lisa

Because apparently in this Jacobs case, John, there was a life insurance policy that had a beneficiary designation to the estate, to, you know, instead of naming a person, the beneficiary said the estate of Matthew Jacobs to be dispersed pursuant to a last will with a date. So there's evidence that there really was a last will out there. So if someone brought you a change of beneficiary form for that life insurance, you know, and said, "It should go to me personally," you don't know what the plans were that were already in place, so...

John

Right. You know, it may very well have been that he had done a will that left everything into a trust for the benefit of his...

Lisa

A trust.

John

...his minor child, and he probably would have needed to run his life insurance through his estate in order for the will and...

Lisa

With a testamentary trust, I bet.

John

With a testamentary trust to catch those assets, that would have been perfectly normal planning. So all of that to say, just, you know, it's fine to be a witness. There's no real liability to being a witness on a will. I mean, all your...

Lisa

As long as you're seeing them sign it.

John

Right. The only deal is when you're witnessing a will, there's usually a little paragraph there, and as the witness, you are, by your signature, saying that you were in the presence of the testator, the person making the will, that you were in their presence when they signed the will, and that they are signing their will in your presence, and you're signing in their presence, and they're signing it...so everybody's in the same room while they're all signing. And so even if...you know, I would even avoid the...you know, somebody brings you and says, "Hey, would you witness this will for Bob," and you're like, "But Bob's already signed it, I can't do that." They're like, "Well, here's my phone. I got Bob on the line. He'll tell you that he signed it." I would avoid that

Lisa

Yeah. And I guess another lesson, John, don't make up a will for a somebody after they're dead.

John

And, yes, don't forge legal documents for people.

Lisa

Because a lot of times...

John

For anybody.

Lisa

Kind of like this case, we've had other cases where we've had forged documents, and when you actually start calling the witnesses or the notary to...because you think it's forged, and so you start kind of following up, sure enough, the stories don't add up.

John

Right, it actually doesn't take near as much investigation as you might think.

Lisa

No, like in this case, there was a bunch of stupid in this case.

John

There's a bunch of dumb. You know, and even in a situation like this, you know, you start going and backdating things like that. You know, the funniest thing would have been...it wasn't in this case, but the funniest thing would have been if he was on a cruise or something...

Lisa

On the date he allegedly was in Ouachita County singing the will.

John

Yes, you know, you don't know what you were doing. You don't know what somebody else was doing two years ago because you're trying to backdate some forged document.

Lisa

And, of course, these days, John, everybody has their smartphones and they take pictures of everything, right?

John

That's exactly right.

Lisa

When I take a picture on my phone, it uploads to the cloud. So let's say what if Jacobs had been, you know, in South Texas, you know, deer hunting, and he had taken a picture of a kill, or his buddies or, you know, a funny sign on the highway, and it would have shown clearly that he was not in Ouachita County. That is so likely to happen.

John

Yeah, and especially with the younger generations and everything. So all that to say don't forge your stuff, and, you know, of course, obviously in this case for Donna and her daughter, this was a big deal because they were set to get nothing. So this was an all or nothing deal, this was forge it or we're out.

Lisa

So watch your freedom and your lack of felony...

John

But, you know, if you're a natural beneficiary of somebody already, maybe not to the proportion you like, but if you're a natural beneficiary, you know, you're gonna get something anyway. It's okay if they die without a will.

Lisa

Anyway, well, thanks so much to our sponsors, The Barnett Agency, Dierksen Memorial Hospice, Cowhorn Creek Estate, Christus St. Michael's, Texarkana Funeral Home, Red River Federal Credit Union, Heritage and Reunion Plaza and Twin City Rehab.

John

Yeah, thanks to all of them, thanks to all of y'all for listening, thanks to our Facebook watchers for checking out the last of the show. And we will see you next weekend. Bye-bye.

Lisa

Bye-bye.

John

And bye, bye to all of y'all as well.

Lisa

inaudible 53:09 .

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