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Caring For Generations

If-Only Estate Planning Story #1: Where There’s a WIll, There’s Less Need for Litigation

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2016 | Estate Planning

It’s been almost twenty years since attorney Larry Inlow was killed by a helicopter blade, but the disputes about his estate went on for fourteen years, all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court. Anyone who’s put off creating a will needs to hear the Inlow story again.
When the long legal war between Inlow’s widow Anita and his four children from a previous marriage began, the estate was worth $180 million. Only a fraction of that amount remained after legal fees and the bankruptcy of the insurance company for whom Inlow had worked.

The primary dispute had to do with the bill for Inlow’s funeral and for a $250,000 private mausoleum. These expenses had originally been paid for by Anita out of the wrongful-death insurance settlement paid to her. Later, she was reimbursed by the estate for these expenses.

The Supreme Court ruled against Anita, saying that the wrongful death insurance settlement was meant to cover funeral expenses and that the money should be put back into the estate.

Complicated? Yes. Long and drawn out? Yes. Expensive? Yes. Necessary? No. All of the fighting stems from the simple fact that Inlow died at age 46, without a will.

There’s more to estate planning, of course, than just a will. However, as our attorneys at Geyer & Associates often explain, the will is the most basic testamentary document.  The main advantage of the will is that it makes your intentions clear, including the topic of how funeral costs are to be paid. We take a lifetime planning approach, and our objective is to take the mystery out of the estate planning process so that individuals and families have peace of mind rather than confusion when facing the disability or death of a loved one.

When Larry Inglow died, he was only 46 years old, He had been healthy and active, and certainly no one could have anticipated the sudden tragedy. Even if Inlow had been single without children, he would have benefited from having a will dictating who would be in charge of his affairs. Estate planning documents were even more important in Inlow’s case – he was a wealthy corporate executive, married, with five children (four from one marriage, one from the second marriage).

Where there’s a will, there’s less need for costly litigation.