Even in her 90s, Joy Culverhouse was a woman of "strong will'' who made one thing perfectly clear — she didn't want her children to inherit any of her millions.
That's the latest claim in the battle over the estate of the widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr.
In a motion filed this week in Hillsborough County probate court, representatives of the estate are trying to quash attempts by Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and his sister, Gay Culverhouse, to revoke their mother's will and a multi-million dollar trust. The siblings don't have legal standing to challenge the will, the motion says, because Culverhouse disinherited them long ago.
In support of that claim, the representatives attached four wills and 12 trust agreements that Culverhouse signed between 2009 and 2012. All say: "I purposely have not provided for my children under this because they have each received sufficient gifts during my lifetime.''
Culverhouse, who died April 26 at 96, "was a vivacious out-going woman, of strong will and determination leaving unambiguous instructions that her children play no part in her affairs,'' the motion says.
But Hugh Culverhouse Jr. says the fact that his mother signed so many wills and trust agreements indicates something is not right.
"Would a sane, competent person amend their will every month, and sometimes every other day?'' he asked.
In their petition to revoke the will, Culverhouse and his sister have alleged that three men close to Joy Culverhouse in her last years took financial advantage of a wealthy woman addled by age and alcohol abuse.
As Culverhouse deteriorated, the petition says, lawyer Robert Waltuch and accountant Scott Lynch cut her off from her children and "manipulated'' her into making grandson Christopher Chapman her heir while they took large personal loans, "outrageous'' salaries and steered her into risky investments with "disastrous consequences.''
In their motion to dismiss the petition, the three men called the allegations "unsubstantiated'' and "without basis in fact or law.''
"As Decedent disinherited her children a very long time ago, they lack standing to bring this action and do not belong before this court,'' the motion says.
More than three months after her death, Culverhouse's body remains in a Tampa funeral home with the cost being paid by her estate. Her children, both in their 60s, initially said they would not authorize disposition of her remains until an autopsy was performed and they had access to her medical records, doctors and nurses.
Hugh Culverhouse Jr. said he and his sister then said they would forego those conditions if her brain was autopsied but that their offer was rebuffed.
"We have to have a hearing to determine the issue as they object to every option we gave,'' he said.
Attorney Eric Adams, who is representing Culverhouse's grandson and the others, said the estate did not agree to an autopsy of the brain "because any autopsy would be against the wishes of Mrs. Culverhouse."
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate