The benefits of an existing estate plan ultimately come down to two things: clarity and certainty. With a well thought-out and legally binding plan in place, even those who may be decades away from the end of life can rest assured that their assets and property will be distributed as they see fit.
Too many Americans, both in the Los Angeles area and across the nation, a putting off estate planning, with the results often proving to be near-unbelievable. One California substitute teacher was given the unexpected news earlier this month that she had been awarded over $7 million in inheritance from a recently deceased cousin.
The only surviving relative to be found, the woman was the beneficiary of over $7.4 million in gold coins and bullion that had been found in the 69-year-old Carson City man’s house after his passing. Without an estate plan or living will, the man’s belongings and holdings were administered to the woman, which may or may not have been keeping with his wishes.
Living a quiet life in the Nevada capital since the late 1960s, the man also left behind a house valued at over $100,000 and more than $165,000 in bank accounts, stock, and money market holdings. The real story, however, were the multiple boxes of gold found in his garage-enough to fill two wheelbarrows all told.
With no legal directive in place, many other people have been calling attempting to claim that the gold belonged to them. One was so persistent that a court order blocking all further communication was put in place. Ultimately, none of the callers were able to provide legal documentation backing up their claims to the man’s wealth.
Although the Nevada man’s lack of planning resulted in an amazing windfall for the California woman, it’s impossible to say whether the resulting exchange of wealth is in keeping with his wishes. No age is too early to begin planning for estate administration, and with the help of an experienced attorney, the process can be both expedient and vastly reassuring.
Source: Yahoo News, “Substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune,” Dec. 14, 2012
- At our Ventura law firm we assist individuals and families with any matter pertaining to estate planning before unexpected turns of events make it too late.