The family of a Pentecostal bishop from Detroit says the national megachurch he built before his death is keeping them from inheriting what they believe to be up to $10 million, according to The Detroit News in "Family battles over megachurch founder's estate."
Bishop William Bonner's two adult grandchildren say his survivors are being shut out of their inheritance, and they believe officials with a Harlem church are hiding money and records about property that belongs to the family.
Bonner died in April at age 93, after suffering from dementia and complications from a stroke. He founded Solomon's Temple in 1944, which has grown into a 2,500-seat sanctuary. His real estate empire includes as many as 30 homes and other properties in several states, his family says. His survivors want the church to open its books on his financial affairs to give them more information about the bishop's Will detailing property and cash that they claim should be part of their inheritance.
The family, which has no part in church business, is fighting for the right to sell the late minister's property, while church officials argue any sale proceeds belong to the church.
Grace Bonner said her grandfather's Will was changed less than a year before he died, which she said is suspicious. Family members have filed the lawsuit to force church leaders to answer questions about what has happened to their grandfather's estate.
A widower, Bonner was survived by his son, William Lee Bonner Jr., and his granddaughters.
Bishop David Maxwell, pastor of Solomon's Temple until 2013, said Bonner's health began to deteriorate around 2008 and he began to "appreciably" deteriorate a few years later. He said his concerns led him to call Bonner's son beginning in 2011 about Bonner's health, "encouraging him to become more actively involved in his father's affairs."
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Reference: The Detroit News (January 27, 2016) "Family battles over megachurch founder's estate"