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BET.com
updated 11/16/2005 4:33:15 PM ET 2005-11-16T21:33:15

The legal battle has begun over the estate of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday that a feud between Parks's family and the people who cared for her has erupted into a heated court battle over her estate.

Parks's nephew, William McCauley, 47, filed a petition last Thursday in Wayne County, Mich., probate court contesting a will for her drawn up two year ago, the newspaper reported.  In court papers McCauley is asking to be named as personal representative of Parks' estate, saying that she died without a valid will.

"Out of respect for Rosa Parks and her memory, the family is hoping the parties can quickly reach an amicable resolution," McCauley's lawyer, Darren Findling told The Detroit Free Press, declining to elaborate on the charges.

On Friday, retired Judge Adam Shakoor and Parks' longtime friend and caregiver, Elaine Steele, filed a counter-claim asking to be named co-personal representatives and that the court recognize a will giving them control of Parks' estate.

Shakoor wrote that he must serve as her co-representative "to preserve the estate and direct litigation in Alabama that requires immediate and continuing attention for proper estate administration," according to court records.

"It's the role Mrs. Parks placed me in and the role that I'm honor-bound and duty-bound to fulfill," Shakoor told The Detroit Free Press. When Parks created her living trust in July 1998, she gave Shakoor and Steele power of attorney to handle her affairs. "I am not seeking conflict. I am just carrying out what Mrs. Parks expressed."

A hearing has been scheduled in the case for Dec. 14.

Parks' estate could be substantial given an April settlement of a suit that originally sought $5 billion for an Outkast song that used Parks' name without her permission.

Parks, 92, a widow who had no children, died Oct. 24 at her home in Detroit. She suffered from dementia in her last years, a matter that could deepen the conflict between relatives and others who have a stake in her will, The Detroit News reported.

Her refusal to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955 started a boycott that ended segregation in public transportation.

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