Under what are, at best, suspicious circumstances, a pastor who inherited an elderly church member’s entire estate through a potentially invalid will didn’t even pay for her funeral.
Pastor Jon Wright now has every single cent that belonged to 90-year-old Beatrice Allen, whose relatives were entirely excluded from the will. The document makes Wright the sole benefactor of Allen’s estate, and it appears to have been drawn up by church members.
Beatrice Allen was a mother and a grandmother, hard working and fiercely religious. When she died last September at the age of 90, her family struggled to accept that she would no longer be part of their lives.
They never anticipated that they would also be in a struggle with the man whom, for more than a decade, they trusted with her life: Pastor Jon Wright.
“Truthfully, I don’t hate the pastor, and I don’t want any ill to come to him. But I don’t want him ever to have the chance to treat anyone’s family this way,” said Cedric Hoyle, Allen’s grandson.
For nearly 40 years, Wright has been the pastor of Metro Church of Kansas City where Allen was a longtime member. She trusted Wright so completely that in 2003, after suffering four strokes, she gave him power of attorney.
As a result of Allen’s trust in Wright, something he was able to achieve due to his unique position as a respected religious leader and authority figure in her life, he was able to take control of her finances. The family didn’t find out that the pastor also became her sole beneficiary until Allen’s death, according to her daughter and only child Rosalind James.
Shortly after her mother’s death, James called the pastor to ask about her mother’s bank account. The pastor said it was none of her business. That’s when she first learned her mother had a will leaving everything to Wright.
Hoyle said he asked the pastor, “Who drew this up because my grandmother can’t talk or write or read. So who drew this up?” He said her attorney had.
“And I said, ‘Who is her attorney?’ because I’ve never heard of him. He refused to speak any more about it,” Holye said.
They said the pastor wouldn’t even let them see a copy of the will — even though by law the holder of a will must file it with the Missouri Probate Court. The pastor also wouldn’t tell them how much the estate was worth.
Wright claimed Allen had been estranged from her family, and therefore they weren’t owed anything, but the will itself goes even further by denying their very existence. That could spell legal trouble for the pastor’s inheritance, according to some experts.
WDAF showed the will to Kansas City attorney William Stilley, an expert on probate law.
Stilley said the will didn’t appear to be drafted by an attorney. Of primary concern to Stilley was a line in the will stating that, at its time of execution, Allen had no children.
“That’s a lie,” Stilley said. “How much other stuff is not necessarily true in this will?”
Stilley said if someone was estranged from their family, they may not leave them any money, but their existence can’t be denied. That could likely make the will invalid if it was challenged in court.
Also concerning was the fact that the witnesses and notary to the will are all members of the pastor’s church…
According to the will, money from Allen’s estate was supposed to pay for her funeral. Instead, Allen’s family paid the entire cost. The pastor never offered to help.
This will is suspect at best, but the family is still considering whether or not to pursue legal action due to the potential costs of such litigation. I just hope they are able to get justice — and that this pastor doesn’t do the same thing to some other unlucky family.