The Monthly and Probate Court for Montserrado County on Friday, February 26, revoked one of its letters of administration issued to two parties to administer the affairs of the intestate estates of the late Edward Fayiah Cassell.
Judge Vinton Holder revoked the letter of administration issued to the widow of the deceased, Marron Cassell, Liberia’s Gospel Ambassador, who currently resides in the United States of America.
Holder took the decision immediately after he denied Marron Cassell’s motion to strike the testimony of the brother of the deceased, who is also the administrator of his controversial intestate estate.
Holder’s court, on April 9, 2020, issued the letter of administration to Duval Cassell, who said that he received a letter of confirmation for engagement of legal services, claiming to be a power of attorney on behalf of himself, Marron Cassell and Beatrice K. Johnson to petition the court for a letter of administration.
Duval’s letter of administration was filed on his behalf by Cllr. R. McDonald Garnett, who afterward, filed the petition for the court’s revocation of its letter of administration issued to the brother of the deceased, George Popei, who said that his brother, prior to his death issued him the authority to manage the affairs of his estate.
The case grew when Duval applied for the administration letter on April 8, 2020, barely two days after the death of Edward F. Cassell, but with no death certificate attached to the petition based upon which the court issued to Duval another letter of administration.
By then, in counter-argument, Cllr. Laveli Supuwood, one of the lawyers of Popei, quoted Rule #21 of the Governance of the Monthly and Probate Court, stressing that the letter of administration issued to Duval by the court was in gross violation of the rule.
The rule provides that “Upon the demise of an intestate and, thirty days after his death, the curator shall file information in court, bringing said fact to the attention of the judge, whereupon the court shall order the curator together with a representative of the deceased, where one can be found, which shall nearest in degree to the intestate to take a true correct inventory of the land, goods and cattle, whether in possession or in action.
It continues, “The said inventory shall be signed by the curator together with the representative of the deceased supported by a verified affidavit duly filed in the office of the clerk ten days after the granting of the order for inventory.”
In conclusion, the rule says: “The affidavit shall carry the usual declaration that the curator and the next of kin shall disclose any after discovered assets of the deceased.”
Cllr. Supuwood further argued that the court failed to follow the rule when they issued the second letter of administration to Duval. “It was unprecedented in the practice of law in Liberia’s jurisdiction for one person to prepare and sign a power of attorney on behalf of another person.”
“It is also unfortunate for a counselor-at-law of the Supreme Court bar to file such a defective paper claiming it to be a power of attorney,” Cllr. Supuwood argued. He added that there is no law under Liberia’s jurisprudence that authorizes one person to appoint Attorney-In-Fact for another person.
Supuwood told the court that Cllr. Garnett did not have the authority to file the petition on behalf of the petitioner, and that the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the parties of the petitioners.
Cllr. Supuwood, however, argued that Cllr. Garnett’s petition was prematurely filed becasue the deceased body was still at the Alfred Butler Funeral Chapel contrary to law, and it is not only defective but illegal and therefore should be revoked.
Supuwood argued that Marron and Duval both have lived in the U.S. for the past ten years or more, up to and including the death and burial of the deceased.