Trusts & Estates

Man implements $200M estate plan, but dies before signing will; sons file unjust enrichment suit

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Henry Faison already had a will.

And, when an accountant suggested the North Carolina real estate developer revise it, he asked a well-regarded law firm to set up a charitable foundation (named after his dog) to minimize estate tax on some $200 million in personal assets. Then, just as he was about to sign off on his new estate plan, he suddenly died, the Charlotte Observer reports.

In what may prove an uphill legal battle, his sons and estate are suing Faison’s company. Although the new will wasn’t signed before Faison died last year at age 78, what Faison wanted is documented, and he made alternative provisions for the company. Hence, the plaintiffs contend, his company has been unjustly enriched by benefiting both from the original will and arrangements made in the expectation that the new estate plan would take effect.

In a written statement provided to the newspaper by attorney Douglas Ey, the company said court input is needed to resolve the unusual situation:

“Everyone agrees that Mr. Faison was working on revising his will before he died unexpectedly last year. But he didn’t finish the process, and the will that he signed in 2000 is his estate plan.

“It is clear that the court’s direction will be needed to sort out the legal implications of Mr. Faison’s incomplete estate planning.”

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