Articles Tagged with Disinheritance

Stern judge wagging fingerIn most cases, as long as basic principles are followed, a person is entitled by law to leave whatever he or she wishes to their heirs. There are no requirements to leave assets to adult children, but a recent ruling in a London Court of Appeals may change this.

When Thomas Jackson passed away in an industrial accident, he left behind a wife and a daughter who was only two months old. He left a small estate from his earnings and compensation for his death that went to Melita Jackson, the mother of his daughter, Heather Ilott.

At the age of 17, Ilott eloped with her teenage boyfriend. Despite the fact that the relationship continued for well over 40 years and the couple had five children, Melita Jackson never forgave her daughter and spurned all attempts at reconciliation.

Wills-trusts-and-estates-coveredWealthy mining magnate Harry Magnuson thought that his estate plan was all settled, and it was, while he was alive. But his wife did not follow the plan he had created, and as a result, one of the Magnuson children is now suing his siblings over an inheritance.

When Harry Magnuson and his wife Colleen had their estate plan created in 2002, the structure was relatively straight-forward:  if Harry died first, everything would be left to the surviving spouse. When Colleen died, the entire estate was to be divided equally among the couple’s five children.

Harry passed away in 2009 and Colleen received everything as planned. However, when she passed away, everything was not divided equally between all of the children.

Red boxing glovesLawyers for Mr. Cohen say that he was entrusted with his father’s business, and that the two men enjoyed a close and caring relationship. But lawyers for Ms. Perelman claimed that it was that closeness that allowed Mr. Cohen, who eventually took over operations of Hudson Media, to manipulate the ailing man into changing his will. 

Even when there are good reasons for leaving everything to one child, disinherited children will often choose to fight in court. Most people attempt to leave all of their children an equal proportion of their assets. That is not always easy to do. If the majority of assets are tied up in a business, for example, then it may be prudent to leave the business to the child who is active in the business. Just be ready for a fight if this decision is done late in life.

A recent article in The New York Times, titled In Inheritance Battle, Judge Sides Against Perelmans,” reported on a legal dispute over the estate of billionaire Robert Cohen.

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