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No estate planning and will means first cousin inherits fortune

If something were to happen to you, do you know who would get your possessions and money? You may have ideas as to who should receive what, but unless there are specific legal documents in place, your estate will be divided by New Jersey's intestacy laws. This generally means that your property or the money obtained from selling your property will go to your nearest relatives, regardless of whether you want it to or not.

If you would rather your things or your money go to other relatives, friends or organizations you support, you will need a will. Drafting a will takes time and careful thought, and is often best done in conjunction with an estate planning attorney. Even if you write up your own will, you will need to make sure that the language you have used is clear and will be legally recognized or all of your hard work will be for naught.

In this story, one man's failure to obtain a will meant that his first cousin received nearly $7.4 million after she was determined to be his closest family member and the lone heir. It is unknown if he had wanted her to receive this fortune, especially in light of the fact that it appears she had no idea he was wealthy. Regardless of his desires, however, she inherited the money that will come from the sale of his multimillion-dollar coin collection.

The 69-year-old man had been living a relatively inexpensive life when he died and no one could have guessed at the valuable gold coin collection stashed throughout his home and garage. The coins were found when the man's home was being cleaned following his death.

Source: The Associated Press, "Substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune," Dec. 14, 2012

Our law firm has worked with many people to create wills that will help to provide for family members, rather than allowing an estate to be divided according to New Jersey's intestate laws. Find out more about our work by visiting our website.

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