Without an estate plan, almost anything can happen to a person’s wealth and property following their death. Unknown legal authorities and unexpected distant family may become the ones to distribute and claim valuable assets.
Earlier this month and some distance west of Texas, a high-asset estate which included an amazing $7.4 million in gold coins and bullion was awarded to the unsuspecting cousin of Carson City, New Mexico man who passed away without a living will or estate plan.
The 69-year-old Nevadan had had no children or designated heirs that could claim his sizeable fortune, which in addition to a wealth of gold included a house, classic Mustang car, and accounts totaling over $165,000. His only reachable relative, a first cousin living in California and working as a substitute teacher, was contacted and notified that, for lack of heirs or prior planning, the entire Nevada man’s holdings were now his.
Boxes of gold coins and bullion in the garage after authorities began inspecting the man’s home following his passing. Eventually enough of the precious metal was found to fill two wheelbarrow loads.
In an interview the surprised beneficiary of this wealth noted that some contacted him following his windfall in an attempt to lay claim to some or all of the gold. One such caller was so persistent that a court order blocking future contact was established.
While the outcome of this inheritance case was especially positive for the unsuspecting California man, it may not have been exactly what his benefactor had intended. In order to ensure that one’s wishes are preserved and inheritance enjoyed by the proper heirs, a comprehensive and thorough estate plan should be drawn up, if possible long before the end of life appears close at hand.
Source: Yahoo News, “Substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune,” Dec. 14, 2012
A legally established estate plan can simplify the inheritance process and guarantees your wishes are honored. For more information, contact our Dallas estate planning law page.