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Thread: Family inherits millions, generations later

  1. #1
    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Family inherits millions, generations later

    Millions of us dream of a long lost relative leaving a substantial sum to us in their will and solving all our financial problems, few think it would take almost 100 years to reach us. But that's exactly what's about to happen to 12 people the descendents of Wellington Burt.
    Burt died 92 years ago, in 1919, but thanks to one of the oddest and most hotly contested wills ever written, the millions he made in life won't reach his descendents until this month.

    What happened

    Burt was one of America's richest men at the turn of the century, he had made his fortune from iron and timber, but it seems he was keen his family should not take the lion's share of his wealth after he died.

    Newspaper reports from the time suggest Burt's family fell out with him and each other. The businessman spent his final years living alone with his staff, but in life had had two wives and fathered six children.
    Burt, 87 at his death, gave modest allowances of between $1,000 and $5,000 a year to his children and grandchildren as well as to his cook, driver, secretary, housekeeper and coachman. In today's prices that's between 13,000 and 40,000 a year.
    He did leave one of his sons $30,000 (about 230,000 in today's money) but apart from that his inheritance was locked away until 21 years after his last grandchild died which happened in 1989.
    "I'm pretty sure he didn't like his family back then," said Christina Cameron Burt's great-great-great granddaughter and one of those set to benefit now.
    This meant his six children and seven grandchildren wouldn't inherit more than their allowances, while six of his great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren missed out by dying before the money was passed on.
    Is that legal?

    Legal battles raged for decades in the courts as those set to miss out or those who wanted the money sooner argued about these terms. In 1920 some $720,000 (worth 5 million in today's money) of Burt's wealth was passed among his children after a loophole was found in the will, while in 1961 another $700,000 (worth 3 million today) went to nine heirs and three other family members.
    But the problems don't end there even after the final grandchild died the question of who would get the rest of the cash was left unsolved.
    It wasn't until April this year that a deal was struck on how to split the money, after 20 lawyers representing various heirs of the business mogul finally agreed on a settlement.
    Now, 92 years after he died and 94 after the will was written, Burt's three surviving great-grandchildren, seven great-great grandchildren and two great-great-great grandchildren can take their shares of the 60 million fortune.
    The chief probate judge of Saginaw County Burt's final resting place described it as "one of the most complicated research projects" he had faced in his 12-year career.

    Not alone

    Of course, deciding who gets what when you're gone is a far from simple prospect, especially for the super rich and self-made millionaires
    Warren Buffet and Bill Gates two of the richest people on the planet today have both decided to give the vast majority of their billions to charity rather than spoil their children.
    Closer to home, Nigella Lawson announced she wouldn't leave a penny of her multi-million pound fortune to her children a few years ago. "I am determined that my children should have no financial security. It ruins people not having to earn money," she said in 2008.
    But do you think they're right to do this? Tell us your thoughts below.

    Don't you wish you had a great-great-grandpa like this?

  2. #2
    Gold Member Martinco's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    I am sure all the guys and dolls are busy right now checking their family heritage in great detail ! Looks as though I missed out.
    Martin Coetzee
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    You may never know what results will come from your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results... Rudy Malan 05/03/2011

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