Estate Dispute Involves Historically Important Property

Martin Luther King Jr. estate dispute

Martin Luther King Jr.

The surviving children of world-renowned civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. are currently involved in a bitter estate dispute over property belonging to the late Mr. King.

The dispute is between his sons Martin Luther King III and Dexter King and his daughter Bernice King. They are battling over the ownership of Martin Luther King Jr.’s travelling bible and 1964 Nobel Prize medal. The travelling bible was used to swear in President Barack Obama for his second term in office. Both items are considered to be important parts of American history and the civil rights movement of the United States of America.

At the heart of the dispute is what to do with the above items. Ms. Bernice King’s position is that she inherited the¬†travelling bible and 1964 Nobel Prize medal from her mother, Coretta Scott King. Martin Luther King III and Dexter King have expressed a desire to sell the items.

One of the possible reasons this matter is being contested in Court is the potential value of the items in question. Many experts believe that their total sale value may exceed ten million dollars. Ms. Bernice King has made it clear that she believes these items are sacred to her father’s memory and should not be sold.

The trial for this matter was set for a date in February of 2015. At the request of the parties, a trial Judge stayed the case in January to allow them the opportunity to settle the matter without a trial. The deadline to settle the matter was extended to May 27, 2015. The bible and the medal are currently in the custody of the Court pending the resolution of this dispute.

It is easy to see how the prized possessions of a person like Martin Luther King Jr. may cause a bitter estate dispute. The potential sale value of some property may place various parties against each other and result in estate litigation.

This is especially true if the deceased died unexpectedly and little estate planning had been done. If  there are no instructions about estate administration, various parties can try to claim different items which belonged to the deceased. The above scenario is not uncommon. There are many instances where beneficiaries cannot agree on what to do with the property of the estate and an estate dispute ensues. There are also many cases where beneficiaries have sold valuable items and attempted to retain the funds for themselves.

It will be interesting to see if the parties involved in this estate dispute will be able to resolve their differences before the May 27, 2015 deadline imposed by the Court.

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