In mid-December, it was announced that the wife and daughter of a man who won the Illinois state lottery and later died had settled his estate.
We took note of this story for two reasons. First, the man's death has been ruled a homicide by cyanide poisoning, which certainly adds an element of intrigue. Second, the man died without a will, which created problems for his estate.
The man, who won $456,000 in July 2012, died a few days after he won the money. No one has been charged in his death and police are still investigating. According to the settlement, his daughter (who is from a previous marriage) will receive 2/3 of his winnings and some other investments, while his widow will receive the other 1/3, their home and the man's commercial dry cleaning business.
Until this settlement, the mother and daughter were not in agreement as to how the man's estate should be divided. Since he did not have a will, there was no written directive for a court to follow. As you can imagine, this led to problems and a dispute between the mother and daughter that lasted for more than a year.
This story shows why it is prudent to make plans with an estate attorney. Of course, everyone hopes he or she is years away from actually needing an estate plan, but it is never a bad thing to be prepared.
If you are interested in learning more about the work we do for estate planning clients, please feel free to contact us.