One of the premises of this Blog is that estate and trust disputes will become more common over the coming years and decades, in large part due to the graying of America given the large baby boomer generation actively retiring, the fact that people are living longer and many of them will develop dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and because we are in the midst of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in human history. Accordingly, there will be increasingly more attention given to this subject.
A recent example of that is a New York Times article entitled “Are Millions Missing? Some Relatives Want To Know. Others Don’t” that features our law firm’s clients, Virginia and Curt Noel, and their years-long struggle to discover the truth surrounding their family’s wealth. We were privileged to represent Virginia and Curt in multiple legal proceedings both in federal court and state court, as they sought to unravel the mysterious and unfortunate events that surrounded the whereabouts of the assets left by Virginia’s mother, Rose McKee, and father, Dr. Bobby McKee, a prominent Jonesboro, Arkansas ophthalmologist and entrepreneur.
As the article states, between our law firm, our co-counsel, Asa Hutchinson, III, other law firms across the country, and a myriad of other financial experts and other consultants, the Noels have spent over a million dollars pursuing their investigation and litigation through the courts. Most people are not blessed with the Noels’ resources to pursue such matters for the years which it has taken, but for them it was never about the money but was rather about the truth. Their quest continues and can be followed at www.misplacedtrust.com.
I encourage you to read the New York Times article and then consider whether or not you might have a similar experience with regard to your wealth or your family. If you are the potential beneficiary of a will or trust it pays to be diligent about your rights and be attentive to other beneficiaries and fiduciaries who may be less than diligent, attentive, or transparent. If you are an executor or a trustee, this story is a good reminder that you must be attentive to your fiduciary obligations, mindful of the estate planning documents, and cognizant of your duties and obligations under the pertinent law.
Matt House can be contacted by telephone at 501-372-6555, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by facsimile at 501-372-6333, or by regular mail at James, House, Downing & Lueken, P.A., Post Office Box 3585, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203.