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Florida attorney in heated battle over man's estate

What seemed like a noble and just use of a multimillionaire's vast estate has turned into a legal nightmare for everyone involved. When a multimillionaire American man died, much to the surprise of his family, his estate administration outlined a plan that would donate the majority of his wealth to a new charity in Panama, a charity that helps feed needy children. Also in his estate plan was a monthly payment to his surviving wife and substantial cash payments to each of her five children from a previous marriage.

But a judge has recently decided that the attorney responsible for distributing the assets misused a portion of the estate fighting a legal battle in Panama. With the decision, the judge ruled that the attorney would need to repay the $600,000 he allegedly spent, as well as the $390,000 that investigators paid an accountant to track the spending. But the attorney maintains that he was fighting a legal battle in Panama to make sure that the estate was distributed properly, citing that he has been the target of criminal organizations in Panama that would rather see the vast estate in their own bank accounts.

One clear lesson in the case is that people can never be too careful when preparing an estate plan. Whether or not the attorney charged with distributing the estate truly misused a portion of the funds may never truly be clear. But the primary confusion in the estate plan came from the sudden decision of the deceased man to donate so much of his estate to charity after friends and family claimed he had never been known for charitable contributions in the past.

Source: npr.org, "Bequest To Feed Panama Children Spawns Legal Fight," The Associated Press, Nov. 1, 2011

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