Client Spotlight: Stephanie Hector

Stephanie Hector, daughter of the late Catherine Hardy Lavender, contacted Lawyers for Equal Justice in December of 2017 to seek assistance with the probate of her mother’s will. Ms. Lavender had lived a full life that included being an educator, having a family, and winning an Olympic gold medal in the 4 x 100 meters’ relay at the 1952 Olympic Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland.

When Ms. Hector called L4EJ’s referral line, three months had elapsed since her mother’s passing. Ms. Lavender had a will, but it named her brother and sister as executors while leaving the majority of her estate to Ms. Hector. Eager to have her mother’s will probated, Ms. Hector called L4EJ in search of assistance with the probate process.

Her call was referred to D.A. Wilson, who offered to represent Ms. Hector at his reduced rate of $125/hour. Ms. Hector had no resources to hire an attorney at that time, however, so D.A. gave her some legal information on the probate process and role of executors at no cost.

About one month later, D.A. received a call from Ms. Hector. Using the information he gave her, Ms. Hector had gotten the executors to release some money to her from her mother’s POD bank account, giving her the funds to retain D.A. There was still a lot to be done to get Ms. Lavender’s estate distributed in accordance with the terms of her will, starting with getting Ms. Hector named as the Administrator of the Estate. Thanks to Ms. Hector’s organization and D.A.’s diligence, they were able to get the will authenticated by the drafting attorney, convince the out-of-state executors to voluntarily relinquish their rights, and get a notarized consent from Ms. Hector’s daughter, who resides in Austria.

The process took about five months to complete, but Ms. Hector was finally able to file her mother’s will in the Probate Court of Fulton County. As a result, she has been able to properly insure the home that her mother left her (which is her current residence) and to recover her mother’s Olympic gold medal. The biggest challenge now is deciding what to do with the medal.