Sea Island widow sues Synovus

H. Linda Bowen, who filed the complaint in Gwinnett County Superior Court, wants the court to order Synovus to give her access to the money and follow the terms of her late husband's will. A hearing is set for July 7.

Bowen's husband, Harrold, who died in 2007, established the trust in 2001, naming his wife and children as beneficiaries, along with several other charities including Georgia Southwestern University Foundation.

He left a provision for his wife to receive $5 million, and the will directed Synovus to pay off $1 million remaining on the mortgage of their Sea Island home.

In her complaint, Bowen charges that Synovus's trust subsidiary, the executor of Harrold Bowen's estate, refuses to fund the trust or follow the terms of the will. The suit was filed in Gwinnett because Synovus's executor and trustee for the Bowen estate is in Norcross.

Bowen declined to discuss the suit, as did her lawyer, F. Skip Sugarman.

Columbus-based Synovus, second-largest Georgia-based bank holding company, also declined comment.

The bank hasn't fulfilled the terms of the will because Harrold Bowen had an interest in 411 Partners LLC, a real estate development group, according to the lawsuit. The company obtained a loan from the Royal Bank of Canada's RBC Bank and all of owners of the LLC -- including Bowen -- signed personal guarantees for that loan.

Bowen's widow contends the loan doesn't bar the bank from proceeding with the terms of the will.

State Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus), who knew Harrold Bowen and his family because they are from the Americus region, said he spoke with Synovus officials last year seeking resolution to the matter. Several of the charities that are beneficiaries are in the Americus area.

"They were very cooperative and they said until they got something resolved with this promissory note he signed, they couldn't do anything," Hooks said. "They were sympathetic but they felt like their hands were tied."

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