Normally, in legal matters once something is decided there is a limited time that the matter can be revisited by the courts. This is because we do not want people to be able to challenge a court’s decision that others are already relying upon. However, sometimes with estates cases can be reopened years later.
A case in New York, The Will Of Elmer H. Bobst, is an extreme example of when a case might be reopened. Bobst passed away nearly 30 years ago and left behind Letters Testamentary that were used at the time to distribute his estate. However, a Will that he wrote after the Letters, which distributes his estate differently, has only recently been discovered. This creates a big problem for Bobst’s heirs and the court. It needs to be determined what Bobst’s wishes were for his estate. The court has ordered a trial to determine which document should be used. If the Will is the correct document then Bobst’s estate needs to be redistributed.
There are lessons to learn from this. Make sure that you leave all of your estate planning documents where someone can find them relatively soon after you pass away. You should also make sure to destroy any old estate plan documents whenever you make a new plan.