The six siblings of an electrician who died and left behind $20,794 in a bank account are opposing the request of the man’s former employer to be reappointed as his estate administrator.
The Philippine-based siblings, through lawyer Charity R. Hodson, asked the Superior Court to deny Juan A. Gacayan’s petition to be named administrator of the estate of Eduardo Ocampo David.
Instead, they want Christopher G. Imbo, a friend of David’s family and a CNMI resident, to be named as such.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho will hear the matter today, Thursday.
Hodson said that Gacayan is not the best person to administer David’s estate. She said Gacayan has no interest in David’s estate, is not an heir, and has already engaged in repeated breaches of fiduciary duty in the time that he has served as the estate’s administrator.
“Every heir to this estate objects to Mr. Gacayan’s improper attempt to be reappointed as such,” Hodson said.
The lawyer said that David’s siblings, who now claim to be David estate’s heirs, have already notified Imbo that David’s probate had been opened.
She said Imbo already holds a power of attorney for the estate heirs, allowing him to gather any assets in which the heirs may have an interest, which demonstrates their trust and confidence in him. Hodson said it was Imbo who sought an attorney and facilitated their representation in this matter.
Hodson said Imbo is trusted by the estate heirs and has already facilitated notice of the probate matter on the estate heirs, which is something Gacayan never even attempted to do until she (Hodson) filed her entry of appearance in this case.
The lawyer said Gacayan repeatedly made misrepresentations to the court, engaged in self-dealing, failed to notify the estate heirs, and has breached his fiduciary duty to handle the estate’s assets in a manner that is in the estate’s best interest.
She said Gacayan has made repeated misrepresentations to the court, by omission, that David was not married and had no children.
Hodson said the implication of this omission, coupled with Gacayan’s representation that he is a family friend of David, is that the decedent did not leave any heirs eligible to inherit from this estate under rules of interstate succession as set in the Commonwealth Probate Code.
She said under Rule 15 of the NMI Rules of Probate Procedure, Gacayan was required to allege the names, ages, and heirs of David, so far as they were known to him. She said Gacayan failed to do so, despite representing himself as David’s family friend.
Hodson said under Rule 16 of the NMI Rules of Probate Procedure, Gacayan was required to personally serve or mail the estate heirs with the notice of hearing on the matter and failed to do so.
She said Gacayan engaged in self-dealing by petitioning the court to distribute the estate’s only asset to himself, when he had no legal or other authority to do so.
Hodson said Gacayan has wasted estate resources in incurring attorney’s fees and costs in a petition for decree of final distribution with an improper proposed distribution, in a status conference to discuss the improper proposed distribution, and in the heirs having to hire another lawyer.
Hodson added that Gacayan filed the amended petition for letters of administration, restarting the probate process on a probate that was opened almost a year ago now.
In his amended petition for letters of administration filed in court last Aug. 5, Gacayan, through counsel Joey P. San Nicolas, informed the court that he still wants to be the administrator, this time listing the five surviving siblings who are currently in the Philippines.
San Nicolas said the surviving siblings of David were not included in his initial petition to serve as administrator and that he is now correcting the omission.
David’s surviving siblings were identified as Maria Gina Ocampo David-Cuenco, Monalisa Ocampo David, Marlene Ocampo David, Elizabeth Ocampo David Sta. Ana, and Avelino Ocampo David.
Hodson, who was hired as counsel by the same siblings, listed six siblings, including Olivia Ocampo David, who is not on Gacayan’s list.
In Gacayan’s amended petition, San Nicolas said David died without leaving any will on Oct. 15, 2018 on Saipan.
Last Dec. 20, the court granted Gacayan’s initial petition for letters of administration.
San Nicolas said Gacayan is a family friend of David, who had never been married and has no children.
San Nicolas said the property of David’s estate consists of approximately $20,000 in savings account at the Bank of Guam in Garapan.
San Nicolas said Gacayan is a suitable administrator of the estate and would help ensure an expeditious handling and settlement of all probate maters with the least nominal expenses.
David, who hails from Pampanga, Philippines, died at the age of 60 at the Commonwealth Health Center on Oct. 15, 2018, more than a week after he had a heart attack. His remains were brought to the Philippines last November.
Gacayan’s original petition asked the court to allow him inherit David’s money in the bank. Camacho expressed concern last June, since an employer is not an heir when there is no will that expressly states that such employer will get an inheritance upon a person’s death.
Camacho ordered Gacayan to appear in court last June 20 and explain how a non-family individual can inherit money from a decedent without a will.
Upon learning about the probate through Saipan Tribune’s article, the siblings hired Hodson as their counsel.