Keep your will in a safe place and tell your family and personal representative where it is.
Gilbert Fuchs passed away on May 29, 2012. He was unmarried at the time of his death and was survived by four children. He owned a house in Norfolk, Nebraska and another house on the farm. As the Nebraska Supreme Court wrote, “Both homes were in a state of disarray, with papers strewn all about.” On top of that, “Gilbert did not keep his important papers well organized, often leaving them lying about his houses or piled in his cars.”
His children searched his homes for a will but found nothing. Local attorneys, surrounding courthouses and banks with safe deposit boxes were contacted and nothing was found. In June of 2012 his children filed a probate case stating that he died without a will.
On June 8, 2015 one of Gilbert’s children received an envelope containing Gilbert’s last will and testament dated January 26, 1987. It named only one of his children as his beneficiary and personal representative. Shortly thereafter the child named in the will as personal representative filed a petition for the formal probate of the 1987 will.
The Nebraska Supreme Court held that the probate of the will was too late and the statute of limitations barred the probate of the 1987 will. There was no equitable basis to allow the late discovered will to be admitted to probate.
Lesson: If the 1987 will would have been discovered on a timely basis, Gilbert’s intent to pass all of his property to his intended beneficiary would have been accomplished. As it was, and after extensive litigation, all of his children received his property contrary to his desire.
In re Estate of Fuchs, 297 Neb. 667 (September 8, 2017).