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Individuals who wish to distribute their estates among their heirs may accomplish this with a variety of legal instruments such as wills and trusts. Estate planning should cover as many contingencies as possible to ensure that the beneficiaries receive their shares of the estate. Readers in Florida may have heard about the following case involving a dispute over a large estate.

A 60-year-old man who died on Dec. 31 was a possible heir to a fortune worth about $300 million, according to investigators. The estate is currently being contested by the surviving heirs, which includes an extended family among other parties.

The man’s body was discovered in Evanston, Wyoming, late last month under a railway overpass by children who were sledding nearby. The overnight temperatures in the area had reached a low of 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the days around the man’s death.

The dispute over the estate began when the sole heiress to the estate died in 2011. Two wills different signed wills were found after her death. The first will specified that the estate should be divided among her relatives, while the second will stated that none of the estate should go to relatives.

The primary purpose of estate planning is to ensure that an individual’s estate is distributed according to that individual’s wishes rather than allowing a probate court to make this decision. What is likely to occur with the fortune in this case is now unclear. If the possible heir who died under the railway pass had no will, it’s reported that his siblings could inherit his portion of the large estate.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Homeless Heir To $300 Million Huguette Clark Fortune Found Dead,” Cavan Sieczkowski, Dec. 31, 2012