Civil rights icon Rosa Parks died in 2005, but her estate still has not been settled. An auction house was supposed to sell nearly $10 million worth of her assets, but a fight over her will's execution due to ambiguous estate planning has slowed the process. Recently, a judge decided nothing will be sold without his approval because the sides could not agree.
Parks' 15 nieces and nephews had asked the court to require the co-personal representatives of the estate to post an $8 million surety bond in order to ensure that the nieces and nephews would receive a fair amount of financial compensation through any sale of Parks' belongings.
The parties previously agreed that 80 percent of the proceeds would go to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development and her relatives would receive the other 20 percent. However, the auction house now reports that Parks' belongings will only sell for around $4 million because the auctioneers cannot find a buyer. Previous estimates had the items' worth pegged between $8 million and $10 million. The various factions in the dispute want to sell the entire collection to a single institution that can care for all the memorabilia.
Regardless of price, no item can be sold without the approval of the relatives' lawyer, Parks' personal assistant and a court representative. The lawyer representing Parks' family said that the heirs are worried their interests are not going to be fairly recognized.
Sadly, Parks' interests for her estate do not seem to be clear or protected. Usually, appointing a trusted executor of an estate will avoid needless expenses and make property distribution much easier. Unfortunately, a judge now largely controls Parks' estate.
Source: Detroit Free Press, "Judge tells Rosa Parks' estate disputers nothing sells without his OK," David Ashenfelter, March 21, 2012