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Woman left out of developer father's estate

Children and other family members that are left out of an inheritance most often feel angry and betrayed. These feelings can often lead to battles in a probate court to determine whether or not they are truly entitled to a deceased family member's fortune.

That is precisely what happened in the case of a deceased man's estate. The man had accumulated vast wealth as a prominent developer, who owned a number of properties throughout Florida and another state.

The woman disinherited a share of her father's fortune after she and a trustee that she had appointed challenged the terms of the man's trust.

The woman's developer father passed away in 1995. Upon his death, he held $70 million worth of property and had acquired $50 million in debt. The man's estate plan dictated that a trust fund be divided up into 12 equal amounts and given to his six children - each received a generation-skipping trust and a trust in each of their respective names.

An added estate-planning wrinkle that proved to be the daughter's demise was that the man had a "no contest" clause on the trust. This stated that anyone that challenged the terms of the trust would not be allowed to benefit from it.

Despite the "no contest" clause, the woman filed lawsuits in two separate states concerning her father's estate. The trustee she was working with was a personal friend and had little to no experience in estate-planning matters. For this, the woman was disinherited from the estate, a decision upheld by a state supreme court.

The deceased developer had a meticulous estate plan in place. He clearly knew what he wanted to do with his fortune and organized his estate accordingly. This case shows how a solid estate plan can provide clarity to situations like this, instead of allowing trustees or family members to try to distort it for their own personal gain.

Source: The Telegraph, "Supreme court rules against former Tamposi heir cut out of late developer's trust," Patrick Meighan, Feb. 1, 2013

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