The Estate of Taruk Joseph Ben-Ali is notable, not only for its implications in the area of probate law but also for the sensational story behind it. Tales of greed, deception and intrigue suitable for a mystery novel surrounds the case that Taruk's ex-wife was prompted to write a book about it. Most assuredly, our interest in the Estate of Ben-Ali is primarily for its probate implications; however, it doesn't hurt to have an interesting story behind it.
Taruk Joseph Ben-Ali (decedent) was the son of Hassan Ben-Ali with Ann Jackson. Hassan had another child from a previous relationship, D'Artagnan Lloyd, with whom Hassan had little contact with prior to 2006.
Hassan was deemed to be a shrewd and savvy real estate investor who owned several properties. However, he also went through tax and financial problems that may have prompted him to transfer his 2235 Ashby Avenue property to his son, Taruk, to perhaps prevent losing the property to the IRS.
In 1995, Taruk's parents, Ann and Hassan, moved albeit in separate units, into the Ashby property. Hassan continued to manage the property even if the title to the property has passed to Taruk. In 2002, Taruk married Wendelyn Wilburn (contestant and appellant). Hassan allegedly opposed Taruk's marriage to Wilburn and had tried to dissuade Taruk from marrying her up to the day of their wedding. Prior to Taruk's marriage to Wilburn, he had a daughter named Brittany Desmond (contestant and appellant) from a previous relationship. Wilburn also had a son from a previous marriage. Wilburn was aware when she married Taruk that he had a history of drug problems and had spent some time in prison. However, during the first several years of Taruk's marriage to Wilburn, drugs were not an issue until he fell off the wagon in 2004. In the same year, Wilburn went on a business trip to Las Vegas where she talked to Taruk by telephone for the very last time. When she returned home from her trip, Taruk was nowhere to be found. Wilburn asked her father-in-law, Hassan, to find out if he knew Taruk's whereabouts. Hassan merely informed her that Taruk had decided to leave her and start a new life elsewhere. Wilburn did not believe him and continued her search for Taruk.
Tune in for more on this topic on subsequent blog.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.