Background of Dispute:

The dispute between Miss. State University and former Rankin County Chancery Clerk Murphy Adkins has been covered by both the local paper and blogs. Jackson Jambalaya blogged about the case here and here.

The title of the JJ’s posts are “Disgusting” and “Amazing what money can do to people. Exhibit A: The Bradshaw estate.” Is the language in these titles a bit strong? No, not really.

The brief factual synopsis: Thomas Bradshaw died with no heirs. A prior will left his seven-figure estate to MSU. In 2008, Mr. Bradshaw was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s. In 2009, the Court appointed Adkins Bradshaw’s conservator after the original petitioner withdrew due to health reasons. A conservator is charged with managing the person’s affairs. In 2008, Adkins drove Bradshaw to a lawyer’s office where Bradshaw executed a new will leaving his entire estate to…Adkins.

For those who want to read it, here is MSU’s Objection to Petition to Probate Will and Appoint Executor to the will and here is Adkins’ Answer to the Objection to Petition.

Adkins admits in his answer that he was entrusted with the physical care and financial oversight of Bradshaw.

My Take:

I agree with the general public sentiment that this is unbelievable. I don’t know what was going through Murphy Adkins’ mind. But I do know that he looks like a total scumbag.

Adkins was appointed conservator to prevent THIS from happening. Mr. Bradshaw needed protection from people who might do….exactly what Adkins did do. Rather than stop it, Adkins did it himself!

Of course Adkins has his defenders, like this comment on JJ that states in part:

Has anyone considered why he may have given everything to Mr. Adkins?? Did MSU go visit him daily? Take him to and from his appointments? Have him in their home on holidays? Treat him as a member of the family?  

No, probably not. MSU was not Bradshaw’s court appointed conservator. As a court appointed conservator, Adkins was getting paid to be Bradshaw’s buddy. Doing your job as conservator does not make you family who gets the estate. I know that’s how you justify it in your own mind when you do this, but to everyone else, you come off looking like a thief.

Did Bradshaw–who had advanced Alzheimer’s–even understand that this person who had adopted him was getting paid to do it? And if Bradshaw did understand it, when? All the time? No, probably not if he had Alzheimer’s.

It would be one thing if the conservator was a family member or maybe even already in the will. But some dude the man didn’t even know before he was appointed conservator?

The law presumes undue influence in this situation, which is basically a presumption of stealing. If Adkins wins–and he could–he should enjoy the money. He is getting that money at the cost of his personal reputation, which a lot or people value more than money.