Our firm represented the granddaughters of Charles Carrithers, who passed away in 2010 as a resident of Virginia. At the time, Mr. Carrithers had a significant estate for which he created a last will and testament and a revocable living trust. These estate planning documents provided for the equal descent and distribution of his assets to each of his three children and five grandchildren. The terms of the trust provided that three sons would receive income only during their lives, but the five grandchildren would receive an immediate distribution of their share.
The attorney who initially prepared the will and trust became the subject of an investigation by the FBI for elder abuse. The lawyer was ultimately convicted and sent to prison. During this investigation, the FBI confiscated over 50 file boxes, including Mr. Carrithers’ original will.
The sons of Mr. Carrithers claimed they could not locate the original will and refused to file a copy of the will with the court. Instead, the sons asked the court to administer Mr. Carrithers’ estate under the laws of intestacy, which would give the sons a 1/3 interest each and essentially cut out the grandchildren. Some of the grandchildren objected, and the case involving a copy of the will made its way to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Unfortunately, the filing attorney failed to comply with the technical requirements of filing the will copy within a specific time frame, and the Supreme Court refused to recognize the copy. Following the decision by the Supreme Court on the copy of the will, the FBI contacted one of the grandchildren and advised that there were 25 boxes from the elder abuse investigation and asked if anyone wanted to review the documents.
A review was conducted, and the original last will and testament was located. Our clients sought to have the Virginia court admit the original will and have it control the disposition of Mr. Carrithers’ estate. Mr. Carrithers’ sons objected, arguing that the Supreme Court decision on the copy of the will should control the case. The trial judge agreed with our clients and admitted the original will.
An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Supreme Court rejected the sons’ appeal and upheld the trial court ruling admitting the original will and requiring the intestate administration to be disbanded and the assets to be administered pursuant to the terms of the will and trust. Our clients are now thrilled to know that their grandfather’s inheritance will descend to them as he planned.