While family members commonly receive inheritances from parents or grandparents, fewer Florida residents have likely received a significant inheritance from a long-lost relative. A California woman was likely very surprised to learn of the inheritance she would receive from her cousin. This woman was reportedly the "only living heir" of her first cousin who apparently collected a significant amount of wealth throughout his life.
The man died with approximately $7 million worth of gold coins hidden in his home. To determine the identity of his closest living relative, genealogists had to research his family. The gold coins were found throughout his home and are of a wide variety of types. In addition, the woman inherits her cousin's other assets which include bank accounts, stocks, his house, and additional items within the home.
This type of scenario is likely not very common. As this man did not have a living spouse, children, or siblings, he may not have been concerned about his assets benefiting a particular person after his death. This could explain why he did not indicate in an estate plan where his inheritance should go. However, this situation does point to an important aspect of estate planning.
Anyone who wants their family members to inherit assets or particular pieces of property after one's death would be smart to clearly state this wish in a will. If a person does not state where his or her assets should go upon death, someone else will likely make the decision. In this man's case, the public administrator was likely quite involved deciding what would happen to the man's assets.
It would be unfortunate if a person like this man had hoped his assets would go towards a particular charity or non-profit, and instead had them go to a relative he apparently did not know very well. To prevent this type of scenario, creating a clear will is critical.
Source: Yahoo News, "Substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune," Dec. 14, 2012