Home > Uncategorized > Man Creates Incomplete $200 Million Estate Plan and Dies Before Signing – Son Files Lawsuit

Man Creates Incomplete $200 Million Estate Plan and Dies Before Signing – Son Files Lawsuit

This post came out from the American Bar Association’s Journal.  Concerning Henry Faison, a North Carolina Real estate developer.  You can See the Article here:   http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/man_implements_200m_estate_plan_but_dies_before_signing_will_heirs_file_unj/


Also see the original article in the Charlotte Observer: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/22/4405189/sons-of-late-developer-henry-faison.html#.UmrbSvmko8N


It appears he engaged a law firm to set up a charitable foundation (named after his dog) to minimize estate taxes on approx $200 million in assets. The money was apparently originally to go to his Company.


Before he could sign off on his new estate plan, he suddenly died,


The result?

His sons and estate are suing Faison’s company for Unjust Enrichment – claiming that the approx $200 Million should have gone to the foundation.


The legal issues are novel: what is required in order to create a Will?


In Michigan, pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 700.2502

 a will is valid only if it is all of the following:
(a) In writing.
(b) Signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.
(c) Signed by at least 2 individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after he or she witnessed either the signing of the will as described in subdivision (b) or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.
(2) A will that does not comply with subsection (1) is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if it is dated, and if the testator’s signature and the document’s material portions are in the testator’s handwriting.
If this case were to have occurred in Michigan, it would create a similar problem: the statute was not complied with, but there was other evidence that the deceased intended to create a will.
This is why the sons are arguing “equity” – they are recognizing that, legally, they do not comply with the requirements to create a will, but in the interest of fairness, this Court should simply not allow the Company to benefit from the $200 Million.
If anything, this case highlights the importance of putting your agreements in writing, whether it is your estate plan, or business succession plan. People are prone to postponing these things, since they aren’t generally fun things to think about – death, change…etc… but as this story highlights – they are very necessary.
Email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com



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