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Children of Del Dunmire may clash in court over rightful heir to fortune

Del Dunmire (center) celebrated his 70th birthday party in 2004 with children Debra Dunmire Hedenkamp and Mark Dunmire. Now, six months after their father’s death, the siblings may clash in court over who is the rightful heir to the Dunmire fortune.
Del Dunmire (center) celebrated his 70th birthday party in 2004 with children Debra Dunmire Hedenkamp and Mark Dunmire. Now, six months after their father’s death, the siblings may clash in court over who is the rightful heir to the Dunmire fortune. File photo

Months after the death of an eccentric multimillionaire, his children are clashing over who should receive his fortune.

Del Dunmire was well known for turning his life around after his unsuccessful bank robbery attempt to become the founder of an international aviation parts company. At least some of the wealth he accrued was spent on wild parties. But he also donated to various philanthropic causes, benefiting Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Salvation Army and Kansas City’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fountain.

Dunmire also dreamed of transforming the Harrisonville square into a thriving arts and entertainment outlet, spending $10 million to purchase 80 percent of the square’s properties.

His wealth accrual and expenditures bolstered his name recognition in the area.

But now, that wealth is the source of a sour legal dispute between two of Dunmire’s children, Debra Dunmire Hedenkamp and Mark Dunmire.

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Dunmire Hedenkamp alleges in petitions filed Tuesday that her brother wrongly influenced their father to amend his will and the details of his trust. The result, according to court documents, cut her out as a beneficiary and bequeathed the entirety of their father’s fortune to her brother, Mark Dunmire.

The petitions shed light on incidents that began well before Del Dunmire’s death in July.

A trust created by Del Dunmire in 2008 named three people as the beneficiaries to his fortune: Dunmire Hedenkamp and her two half-siblings, Joshua and Jasmine Dunmire, according to court documents.

Mark Dunmire was “upset that he had been excluded as a beneficiary,” his sister said, and in 2014 he allegedly wrongly influenced their father to amend his will and trust in order to be named the sole beneficiary.

One petition, filed in Cass County Circuit Court, accuses Mark Dunmire of exerting an “undue influence” and committing fraud to obtain Del Dunmire’s signature, altering the millionaire’s 2008 will.

The second petition, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, makes similar claims against Mark Dunmire regarding an alteration to Del Dunmire’s 2008 trust.

An attorney representing Mark Dunmire, Ed Hood, repudiated the allegations.

“We strongly, strongly feel that this is a valid trust,” Hood said, referring to an amended 2014 document naming his client as sole trustee. “It’s our position that the document executed (in 2014) amends and restates the 2008 document in its entirety.”

Hood added Mark Dunmire’s legal team will file a response to the allegations “as soon as possible.”

Brian Madden, an attorney representing Dunmire Hedenkamp, declined to comment.

One of the exhibits of the case is a document allegedly written by Mark Dunmire to his father. Dunmire Hedenkamp said she found the document while cleaning out Del Dunmire’s apartment after he died, according to court documents.

The typewritten document, signed “Mark” and addressed to “Dad,” reads in part, “I have left estate planning documents prepared according to your wishes as you have expressed to me many times. ... Witnesses are easy to come up with just keep in mind that they may be called upon to testify on the veracity of your signature and your capacity when you signed them so please choose well.”

The document’s legitimacy has not been confirmed by Mark Dunmire’s attorney.

“We do not know if it’s authentic or not,” Hood said. “Right now, our position is we have no idea until we examine the facts in more depth.”

Mark Dunmire, when asked by phone to comment on the allegations made by his sister, said, “I can’t comment. As much as I’d like to, I can’t comment.” He then referred The Star to his attorney.

Taken together, the petitions accuse Mark Dunmire of exploiting his father’s bipolar disorder to persuade him to alter his will and trust.

In the document allegedly written by Mark Dunmire, “Debbie” (Dunmire Hedenkamp) is named and said to be in financial trouble. The message goes on to convey that appointing Dunmire Hedenkamp as trustee “is a terrible idea as her creditors will attack and try to seize anything she has ... and sadly cuts me completely out.”

The petitions also say Mark Dunmire tried to convince his father that the shares to be left to Joshua and Jasmine Dunmire would instead go to “some unknown charity.”

“Such representations were intended to and did deceive Delbert L. Dunmire,” Dunmire Hedenkamp says in one petition.

Mark Dunmire’s attorney disputes the claim.

“We do believe (Del Dunmire) had the mental capacity to update his (will) and that the evidence will clearly show that was his intent,” Hood said.

Dunmire Hedenkamp’s petitions call for removing Mark Dunmire as the personal representative of the estate and appointing a “disinterested” person to manage it.

They also assert Mark Dunmire is not the sole beneficiary and that Dunmire Hedenkamp is entitled to the one-third share left to her in accordance with Del Dunmire’s 2008 will and trust.

Dunmire Hedenkamp’s one-third share is worth in excess of $4 million, according to court documents.

The petition filed in Cass County further alleges Mark Dunmire failed to disclose personal property at Del Dunmire’s home at the time of his death. The property included gold and silver bars, coins, guns and other valuables worth $500,000.

The Cass petition also calls for the determination of right of possession for 550 acres in Cass County allegedly transferred to Mark Dunmire and the disclosure of financial accounts and other records for more than 30 Del Dunmire entities, including Growth Airline Sales Inc. and Growth International Sales Inc.

The Jackson County petition says Mark Dunmire breached his fiduciary duty as an attorney when representing Dunmire Hedenkamp because he did not receive “advance consent and permission” from her to reveal her financial trouble to their father and withheld his plan to alter the estate plans to her financial detriment, according to court documents.

“Mark R. Dunmire and his law firm thereby breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty and trust,” Dunmire Hedenkamp says in the petition.

She is calling for jury trials to settle the disputes in the separate courts. She is also claiming more than $25,000 in damages from her brother.

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