published Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Children to share in millionaire's estate evenly

Lawsuit letter
Lawsuit letter

After a day and a half of trial, Allen Yates has been reinstated as an equal beneficiary of his father's estate, valued at about $15 million.

The estate of Yates' father, Pierce Yates, will be shared evenly among his five children, according to one of Allen Yates' attorneys from the office of Bobby Lee Cook.

At the time of his death, Pierce Yates stipulated in his will that Allen Yates' share would be paid to his stepbrother Brewster Yates, a defendant in the suit that Allen Yates brought last week before a Walker County jury.

Allen Yates accused the will's executors, his stepbrother and the pair's stepmother, noted Chattanooga volunteer and philanthropist Jo Ann Cline Yates, of tricking or coercing his father into writing him out of the estate at a moment when Pierce Yates was mentally incompetent.

In a prepared statement, Brewster Yates said the sides settled privately and the brothers shared a tearful embrace.

"I am truly thankful knowing my brother Allen finally realizes and accepts the truth that I was not involved with conspiring against him," Brewster Yates wrote.

He also maintained that he and his stepmother acted in accordance with their father's wishes.

Describing his father as occasionally strong-willed and harsh, Brewster Yates noted that Pierce Yates wrote three of his five children out of his will at one point or another.

Even after Allen Yates' portion of the estate was given to him in the will, Brewster Yates said, he told his brother that the money would be given to him.

"[I] did everything in my power to restore my brother's share. ... Allen was deeply hurt by our father's decision and in his grief needed to blame someone for his pain," Brewster Yates wrote, "Only the public reprobation of those he thought responsible for this slight would satisfy his remorse."

Allen Yates has not responded to his half brother's statement and his attorney said they did not plan to issue a response.

As a condition of the settlement, Brewster and Jo Ann Cline Yates have been removed as executors of Pierce Yates' trust and replaced by wealth management group The Bessemer Trust and Virginia Love, Pierce Yates' estate attorney.

Both sides also signed a nondisparagement clause, preventing them from speaking ill of one another.

Though Allen Yates' attorneys said they cannot give the actual value of his inheritance, they said the entire estate was valued about $15 million. Jo Ann Yates will receive about $5 million in a trust, leaving $10 million in holdings, investments and liquid assets.

The settlement also stipulates that the estate will cover court costs and attorney fees, according to a plaintiff attorney.

The Yates' fortune is due in large part to the family's textile factory, the Yates Bleachery, in Flintstone, Ga.

Contact staff writer Steve Hardy at shardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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