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Today we celebrate a civil rights hero he left behind a legacy of peace and understanding, Dr. King did not leave a will. Of course, his death came as a shock and surprise. That said, everyone dies at some point and many people happen to die at a young age which is why it is important to have a comprehensive estate plan in place.

Dr. King’s lack of a will unfortunately created ongoing tension in his family. His estate included such items as his Nobel Peace Prize (awarded to him in 1964), the briefcase he carried on his last trip to Memphis, and his family bible. In the almost fifty years since his death, his surviving family have been locked in contentious legal battles, including his surviving spouse (Coretta Scott King) and the couple’s four children. The family and the estate of Dr. King have fought over the years, both among themselves and with outsiders, as to the disposition, care, and maintenance of Dr. King’s personal papers and other personal effects. Dr. King’s daughter Bernice has said that her father would be “turning in his grave” if he knew what was going on with his personal items and family members.

Much of these disputes could have been eliminated had Dr. King left a will or, probably more appropriately, a trust for the benefit of his children. Instead, these documents and items, which are national treasurers, are the subject of nearly constant infighting between the King children. Take a lesson from Dr. King’s own case and get cracking on your estate plan. Doing so will save your loved ones lots of grief and provide them with unity in a difficult time. Contact the experienced lawyers at Scarola Law to get started.

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