Avoid an Estate Battle After You Die

Hi all! I hope everyone is doing well. We have been assisting lots of clients and had the honor of attending a wedding a few weeks ago.

REMEMBER! It is always important to update your estate plan and a marriage, whether it’s your first, second, or third, is definitely a time to make those updates.

This week as I was preparing my monthly post, I came across an article on Huguette Clark, the last surviving daughter of William A. Clark. Mr. Clark made a fortune in copper mining and passed those fortunes onto his daughter, who happened to live until she was  104!

The article posted in the New York Times stated that Huguette’s estate, valued at $300 million is still being litigated due to two wills written 6 years before her death, both within one month of each other.

The first will left everything to 21 distant relatives and the other left her estate to a caregiver, goddaughter and established a foundation for her dolls and other collectibles.

Although it is clear Huguette was a millionaire, her case has some important reminders for those with a lot less of an estate than she had.

Issues presented in litigation were:

  •  Disputing Heirs: wills are being more and more litigated and often times it is by relatives who were not even close to the decedent. People come out of the woodwork and stake claim to an estate, especially when the decedent has less obvious heirs.
  • Leaving a Collectible: if donating a collectible or an item of value to a charity, be sure the charity wants it. Be sure to check with the organization or charity to just to make sure.
  • Preventing Disputes: Huguette could have put all of her estate in a trust. This would have prevented disputes and protected her assets while still allowing her to have access to her money. This makes it more difficult for the disgruntled or excluded heir from arguing that mom or dad were incompetent when the trust was created.

It is important for individuals with estates larger than $150,000 to have a trust. Not only for the reasons above, but because it allows you to ensure disputes are limited when you are no longer here.

Our attorney will be more than happy to meet with you to discuss creating an estate plan.  You can meet at our Redwood City location and learn all about our full and comprehensive estate plans.

Let us know if we can help!

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Our law office serves Redwood City, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Carlos, San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont, Burlingame, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and more.

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