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Maryland man’s notes leaving $100,000 to stepdaughter disputed by Shriners

When John Barry Badini wrote his will in 2007, the Clinton man decided he would leave more than $1 million to the Shriners hospitals and $20,000 to his stepdaughter.

In August 2010, he typed a note raising Alicia Decatur’s inheritance to $50,000, court papers show. Then, on March 28 — the day he killed himself — he penned a note to the executors of his estate: “Please change Alicia’s monetary inheritance from $50,000 to $100,000.”

But the Shriners don’t want Decatur to get the additional $80,000.

In a case scheduled to go to court Tuesday in Upper Marlboro, an attorney for Shriners Hospitals for Children, based in Colorado, filed a motion seeking to have the amendments declared invalid because they were not witnessed by at least two people. Such formalities are required for the changes — codicils in legal parlance — to be legitimate under Maryland law, wrote Bethesda lawyer Richard L. Lyon.

Before Badini’s notes surfaced, Decatur said, she never thought about Badini dying or any inheritance. Now, she said, she is just seeking what he wanted to give her.

“This is something that my stepfather wanted,” said the 28-year-old Catholic University student. “I didn’t know what a codicil was.”

For their part, the Shriners said they would follow the letter of his will. “Shriners Hospital wishes to follow (Badini’s) will and the law and will use any funds from the Badini estate for the treatment of children with burn injuries, spinal and orthopaedic injuries and cleft palate and lip injuries,” Lyon wrote in an e-mail.

Badini, who was 67 when he died, had been a Shriner for at least 30 years, one of his close friends said. He was retired from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and had worked as an IT specialist for private firms, Decatur said.

Decatur said she was about 5 when Badini — who was known by his middle name — married her mother. Badini and her mother divorced when she was about 17, Decatur said.

Decatur, who studies architecture, said she moved out of Badini’s home after the divorce and traveled for a few years, then moved back in when she was about 22.

“Barry and I were like two peas in a pod,” Decatur said. “We had the same value system. We’re both very meticulous and very organized. We got along very well because we were both organized.”

From the time she was a young girl, Decatur said, Badini would play with her by putting his hand on top her head and proclaiming, “This is a starving brain sucker!” Badini continued the horseplay into her adult years.

Decatur said she had no idea that Badini was despondent but did know that he was upset over the deteriorating health of his 89-year-old mother.

“He was really stressed about it,” Decatur said.

On March 28, Decatur came home from school and saw Badini sitting in the kitchen, his head tilted to one side. “I thought he was sleeping,” she said. When she got closer, she saw a pool of blood and a handgun on the floor beneath him.

He had left a suicide note saying “I hope God will forgive me” and “I wish you the best in school,” she said.

About a week after he killed himself, Decatur said, one of the two executors of his estate, James Lipiano, mentioned something about the notes that Badini had written.

On the advice of a lawyer, Decatur made copies of Badini’s estate file, including the notes. In June, a judge ruled that Badini’s amendments were valid, according to court records. The Shriners are appealing that ruling.

“This has been an up-and-down roller coaster of turmoil,” Decatur said. “I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined something like this would be happening.”


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