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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

Substitute teacher inherits astounding treasure of gold coins

Earlier this month a Nevada judge certified that a substitute teacher from California is the sole heir to an unexpected fortune. The fortune was left behind by a family member who was a reclusive retiree from Carson City. As the only traceable living heir, the woman will receive the entire proceeds of her deceased first cousin's estate.

After the Carson City man's death, a probate administrator ordered an inventory of the man's household possessions. During the process a cleaning crew uncovered a treasure trove of nearly $7.5 million in gold coins stashed in the man's garage. In total, they discovered 2,695 gold coins, enough to fill two wheelbarrows.

The man left no will and had no immediate family, so court-appointed genealogical researchers set out to find the next of kin, who turned out to be the teacher in California.

This appears to be a real-life version of the popular, if trite, notion of the rich distant ancestor who leaves his fortune to an unsuspecting heir, who immediately runs around the room and rolls around in piles of gold like Scrooge McDuck. But the reality is much more complex, and because this man left no will, the Nevada probate system will also take its share of the windfall as it labors, at considerable length, through the complexities of managing the estate and its assets.

People who want to make sure their money is well kept after their death should always write, and update, a proper will. Beneficiaries, known or unknown, will be thankful.

Source: Fox News, "California substitute teacher becomes heir to gold fortune," Dec. 14, 2012

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My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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