Imagine if one of your relatives had a $300 million estate, and that relative recently passed away. When you learn of what assets will be passed on to you, a rumor emerges that your deceased relative may have had multiple wills, and that one of the wills was conceived under somewhat nefarious circumstances. It’s possible that some people, who may not have had any real personal connection or right to your deceased relative’s estate, found a way into the will by manipulating your relative as he or she declined.
It is a convoluted and confusing scenario, but it can happen. The dispute may not have this exact set of circumstances; but a poorly planned estate or will can create legal turmoil in the wake of someone’s death.
Take the situation that recently presented itself to the heirs of the Huguette Clark estate. Clark had a $300 million estate after her husband passed away. She lived a very long life — passing away in 2011 at the age of 104 — but was rarely seen in public. She spent much of the past two decades living in a medical facility.
While at that facility, it appears some staffers and other people made Clark write a second will that cut them in on her estate, while virtually wiping Clark’s relatives out of the picture. After a couple of years debating the issue, the parties involved with the two wills struck a deal that will assure the estate is split in an agreeable fashion.
This story highlights the need for a clear, organized and well-thought-out estate plan; and it also shows that you should be considering your estate (and a will) well before you reach an age where it may be more difficult to appropriate assets.
Source: Associated Press, “Deal Over Heiress’s Two Wills Benefits Charities and Family,” Sept. 24, 2013
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