A man in another state had a secret investment. It wasn't listed in his will, and since he only had one cousin alive, it is unlikely that the woman knew she was about to inherit a fortune. The man had been stashing gold coins of many different values in his home. The total value of the coins is approximately $7.4 million, a surprising value to not be included in documentation.
While the man's only heir received the fortune, it may not have been what he wanted. It isn't clear what he would have done with the gold coins and maybe he didn't understand their true value. That is why it is important that people understand the full value of their estate and work to update their estate plans on a regular basis. This can also help avoid fees and taxes by accurately planning a way to distribute the estate.
In this case the court appointed an administrator to take care of the estate, who assessed a fee, on top of other fees for storing the assets, verifying heirs and making sure taxes were paid.
Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney and reviewing estate plans every couple of years can help a person avoid court proceedings to distribute the estate. If a person has relatives that they think might not have an estate plan, it might be wise to encourage them to consider at least some very basic estate planning documents.
Source: Associated Press, "Substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune," Dec. 14, 2012
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