Making a Dead Man Pay

What's going to happen to Ronald Stern's estate?

The vultures are still circling.

Two months after accountant Ronald Stern committed suicide, 28 individuals and companies are demanding a piece of his estate. Although Stern was broke at the time of his death, creditors have filed claims in Miami-Dade Probate Court for almost three million dollars.

First in line is the Miami Police Relief and Pension Fund (MPRPF), which is seeking $500,000. Most of the remaining petitions were filed by investors in a mutual fund that Stern started. A De Leon Springs, Florida, woman, Willa Cook, sunk more than $800,000 into Stern's Florida Fund. Then she learned that the money may be gone forever.

Other creditors include First Community Bank, which holds a mortgage on a property that Stern owned in Volusia County ($135,490.32); Citicorp Visa ($8,760.45); and Paul G. Fishbein, M.D. ($87.40). Fishbein wants to collect for a colonoscopy he performed on Stern.

More litigation may be on the horizon. The MPRPF wants to know how Stern could have opened a checking account at Union Planter's Bank in the fund's name without a board member's signature. Financial officials have balked at offering an explanation. "The bank has not been forthcoming, so we are now going through the judicial process," says Robert Klausner, MPRPF's attorney. Union Planter's could not be reached for comment.

The court has hired an accounting firm to determine the value of the assets left behind.

 
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