CLEARWATER – An estate representative is accusing a family member of taking personal assets of their decedent without authorization.

Kelly Sigmon Rice, as personal representative for the estate of Jo Ann Deal, filed a complaint on May 1 in the 6th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida - Pinellas County against Jerri Lee Howard, individually and as guardian for Deal, alleging breach of fiduciary duty/abuse of confidential relationship and other counts.

According to the complaint, both the plaintiff and defendant are nieces of Deal, who died on Sept. 16, 2016. The suit states that Deal had three financial accounts and that the defendant withdrew funds for her own use. The plaintiff alleges that none of Deal's personal assets have been remitted to the plaintiff for the purpose of distributing them per the terms of Deal's will.

The plaintiff holds Howard responsible because the defendant allegedly retitled most of decedent's account to her name and withdrew funds for her own use and benefits.

The plaintiff seeks judgment for damages, plus interest, attorney's fees and costs and such other just and proper relief. She is represented by Paul R. Cavonis and Joseph M. Murphy of Deloach & Hofstra PA in Seminole.

6th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida - Pinellas County Case number 17-002635

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