One of the most important things that you can do for your loved ones is develop a clear and direct estate plan that lets them know exactly how you would like your property divided and what assets will go to whom. This will mean retaining the services of an estate planning lawyer to make sure the document is valid and properly recorded. Failing to do so may result in a continuous battle over what the estate plan was intended to say like one Spanish family found themselves in.
The Dispute Over the Property of Julio Muñoz Ramonet
Following the Spanish Civil War, Julio Muñoz Ramonet became a multi-business tycoon that invested in many important and valuable works of art. Following the downfall of the Franco dictatorship and the implementation of democracy in Spain, Ramonet was accused of insurance fraud and fled to Switzerland. It is alleged that he was angry at his daughters for not taking care of him when he was sick in Switzerland, so he changed his final will to indicate that the city of Barcelona was to get his property following his death.
Barcelona was informed of Ramonet's gift by a friend of the tycoon. Upon this discovery, Spanish and Swiss courts debated the will and its authenticity until the Spanish Supreme Court ruled in the favor of Barcelona in 2012. Now, the city alleges that some of the property that it is legally entitled is missing-and the rejected daughters are to blame. Specifically, legal representatives for the city claim that Ramonet's daughters have stolen 658 pieces of artwork from the mansion that they claim as their own. The daughter's attorneys have said that their art collections were gifts from businesses and family members, that some pieces of art were given away while Ramonet was still alive, and that they have not done anything illegal.
The city disagrees. They have hired specialists and experts to examine inventory lists to prove that the daughters took the property illegally and have sought to bring criminal charges against them.
Can you fight a will?
When property and assets are disputed in a will, things can quickly turn ugly. The dispute between Ramonet's family and the city of Barcelona has spanned two decades and will likely continue longer since the city seeks to regain the allegedly stolen art. This is helpful reminder of why it is so important to have a clear, straightforward will and estate plan in place for your family members and loved ones. If it is not, probate litigation and disputes can quickly breaking out, causing serious feuds and legal battles.
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