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MLK heirs in legal dispute over father's personal items


Many Washington residents have been through the horrible experience of fighting with relatives over who gets to keep sentimental items after a loved one dies. These battles can tear a family apart at a time when everyone's emotions are still raw with grief, or even decades after the loved one's death.

One such battle now pits the heirs of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. against each other. The civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968, and his estate is controlled by his two sons. They want to sell their father's Nobel Peace Prize medal and a keepsake bible he owned to raise cash. His daughter does not want to sell the items, and the two sides have been engaged in a nasty legal dispute over what to do with them.

This is not the first time the estate has been in court over plans to sell historically or sentimentally valuable items. In recent years, singer Harry Belafonte took the estate to court over papers the estate planned to sell, arguing that they actually belonged to the singer.

A court has ordered the Nobel Prize medal and bible to be locked up in a safe deposit box pending the outcome of the current case.

When in the process of estate planning, many Washington residents concentrate on financial matters in an effort to see that they provide for the needs of their loved ones. Financial matters are important of course, but many inheritance disputes actually involve beloved pieces of furniture, artwork or mementoes with a mostly sentimental value. A Washington attorney with experience in estate planning can help people to make plans for these items and avoid leaving their loved ones to fight over them.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "MLK daughter's lawyers want estate's lawyer removed from dispute over Bible, peace prize," Kate Brumback, March 14, 2014

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