Sad battle in probate court

Sad battle in probate court

By Frank Schier

By Frank Schier

Editor and Publisher

The last years of Frances Licari’s 94-year life have been anything but pleasant. Her family is fighting, and her estate estimated at $200,000 has dwindled down to nothing.

She is embroiled in a battle in probate court to recover $20,000 given to her grandson, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. He did not have power of attorney when he received the funds, his brother, Paul Nicolosi, was so empowered. However, he was power of attorney when the loan agreement was made at 9 percent. A settlement of $22,300 has been offered with an additional $300 being requested by Temporary Guardian of the Estate Attorney Joseph Bruce for interest during February and March. Most of this settlement will go to attorney’s fees relating to Mrs. Licari’s probate file. Add in another $7,000 that Licari lost in stock value when she gave the money to Nicolosi.

“With regard to the $7,000, there has never been any proof of that that I’ve seen, so I would call that inaccurate or at least unproven,” said Ted Liebovich, Nicolosi’s attorney.

Attorney Mark Rouleau has been retained by Therese Ingrassia of Wisconsin, Licari’s daughter, to represent her in the fight for the interests of her mother. Rouleau says of the case, “It’s a travesty. It’s truly shameful how the family has fought over this. Prior to the being appointed guardians over Mrs. Licari, all of the four children had taken turns taking care of their mother. Once the guardians were appointed, only Carmella and Therese continued to look after her.”

Prior to the Winnebago County litigation, Licari had filed a fraud case in Cook County District Court against Nicolosi because she feels her estranged family has too much influence in the Winnebago County Courthouse. Licari thinks Nicolosi has invested her mother’s money in Chicago condominiums that have accrued in value. She wants the money for her mother’s independent living in an apartment rather than a nursing home.

Liebovich said, “I can tell you that there was a case filed in Cook County because that’s a matter of public record, and that case is being dismissed.”

The discovery proceedings of Nicolosi’s assets were sealed by Probate Judge J. Edward Prochaska because of the family dispute.

In court on Feb. 23, Judge Prochaska said of the case, “The main reason I have to look at the case as a whole going back years is because of a history of family animosity, I might say a sordid number of years. … Clearly, Joseph and Therese have a tremendous amount of personal animosity. I do not know if Therese Ingrassia was prompted by that. My focus here has been Frances Licari and her interest.”

Ingrassia argues that Nicolosi assets should not be sealed because she says her mother‘s former attorney in the Chicago proceedings agreed to settle the case for $34,000. Then the Winnebago County guardianship proceedings were started by a complaint filed by the Visiting Nurses Association. Now the settlement offer is $23,000.

Ingrassia is very upset because she alleges that Prochaska talked privately in chambers with family members and other persons who did not file any papers with the court.

Liebovich said, “I don‘t know how she can comment on that. She wasn’t there. Her attorney wasn’t there. I think it’s very inappropriate for her to comment on what happened when she wasn’t there.”

Attorneys will be in court March 23 before Prochaska to determine if the settlement will be accepted.

Ingrassia also says investigation is warranted by the amount of money charged by the public guardian and other attorneys in the probate system.

Nicolosi could not be reached for comment.

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