Probate attorneys are well versed in handling contentious probate estates. Usually the problems involve money and beneficiaries and most of the time these problems are never publicized. However, probate problems with famous estates are a different matter entirely. These cases highlight the necessity for good estate planning for everyone.
Rosa Parks was a national figure in the civil rights campaign of the 1950s-1960s. She famously refused to give up her seat on a bus which launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott and became an integral part of the civil rights movement. However, she continued to receive publicity even after her death in 2005 but this time for an entirely different reason. Her last will and testament became part of a six year legal battle in a probate court in Wayne County, Michigan.
At the heart of the matter was a challenge to the validity of Parks’ will between Parks’ nieces and nephews and a charity she designated to receive her estate. The parties finally reached an agreement that gave the family members 20% and the charity the remaining 80% of the estate. However, the litigation could have been avoided entirely with better estate planning documents.
A good estate plan will designate with specificity what your wishes are regarding your entire estate. It will outline to whom you want to receive certain gifts. It will also be clear why you’re choosing to disinherit some heirs. Furthermore, the circumstances under which an estate plan is created should be carefully examined. Estate plans are more likely to be subject to challenges when they are done while an individual is ill, has been diagnosed with a disease, or when there is apparent duress.
Rosa Parks’ estate is a great example why individuals need to have good estate planning documents. No one wants to assume that their heirs will challenge their will but unfortunately this happens all too often. However, with good documents these challenges are less likely and very often completely avoided.
To have your estate planning documents reviewed or to create new estate planning documents, call Burt + Clerc to schedule a complimentary 15 minute consultation.