There are some items that people automatically assume must be included in a will. Some of these items include a home, a vehicle and other items with considerable value. For some people, adding in simple items like a Bible should also be considered. The recent case involving the adult children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shows that even items you don't think much about where you want them to go after your death should still be included in the will.
Dr. King's sons, who have control of his estate along with his daughter, want his Bible and Nobel Peace Prize given to them by Dr. King's only living daughter. She doesn't feel like they should have the items. While the children battle it out in court, the judge has ordered that the items be turned over to the court to be placed in a safety deposit box.
The judge found that there was a "fair, equitable balance of the competing interests." He does say that it seems likely the estate will prevail. The safety deposit box will be in the estate's name, but the key will be held by the court.
Dr. King's daughter doesn't feel that the Bible and Nobel Peace Prize should be sold, but his sons believe they should be sold. They claim the sale of these two prized possessions is vital for the estate's viability. The judge refused the request for the items to be turned over to the estate immediately, noting that they will be "as culturally significant today as they were yesterday as they will be tomorrow."
This court battle shows how important it is for anyone who has things others might consider valuable to list them in their will. By making a detailed will, legal battles like this one might be avoided later. Anyone who is making a will or dealing with estate planning should make sure he or she understand the documents they are filling out. Seeking help from a Texas estate planning attorney might help to get questions answered.
Source: KLTV, "Correction: MLK Children-Legal Battle story" Kate Brumback, Feb. 19, 2014