There are many cases released every month on estate disputes. One that has been of particular interest lately is the case of the estate of John Kaptyn. John died in 2007, having made a detailed and complex plan for his estate that would effectively skip a generation. John had extensive assets, including several commercial real estate holdings. In his will, he left his sons as the executors, while leaving the bulk of his assets to his five grandchildren. His sons – who have been unable to work together – have spent the past four years fighting over the terms of the will.
The most recent decision to come out of this case involved lawyers’ fees. The two sons, Henry and Simon, claimed a total of $4.4 million in legal costs for the multiple court appearances on this matter. In reducing the claim against the estate by 80%, and charging it instead to Henry and Simon personally, the judge compared the dispute to the Dickens novel Bleak House – the case has gone on for years, for no apparent reason other than the desire of the parties to keep fighting.
This estate is a clear example of why it is crucial to choose your executor carefully, especially when you are considering involving more than one person.
You can read the decision here.