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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

French heir finds $3.7m gold hoard under furniture

How would you feel if you inherited a house from someone? Pretty good, I imagine. And what if the house was fully furnished and decorated? Even better! And now, imagine that hidden in the back of the linen closet and taped underneath couch cushions were stacks and stacks of gold. I'm sure you would think THAT would never happen to anyone. But it has. A man in France who inherited a house from a relative has found 100 kg (220 lbs) of gold in the house.

Click here to read a story from www.BBC.com with more details about this surprising haul.

If that happened to you, would you be allowed to keep the gold, or would that belong to the estate? That would depend on the facts and the wording of the will.

If the will left you the house and specifically gave you the contents of house as well, you'd be entitled to keep everything in the house, including the gold. If there were other beneficiaries, I'm sure they'd take a stab at claiming the gold belongs in the estate, but if the language of the will is clear, it should stand up to the challenge.

If the will left you the house only and did not specifically state that you were to get the contents as well, you would not get to keep the gold. Nor would you be able to keep the furniture or anything else in the house. The items would belong to the general estate and be divided among residuary beneficiaries. When a person leaves a beneficiary "the house", it does not include the contents. Leaving a house to someone means you have left your title to them, including the buildings but excluding the personal and household goods contained within them.

Other clauses in the will could also have an impact on whether the gold could be kept or not. Clauses in a will generally cannot be taken in isolation but must fit into the intent of the will as a whole. For example, if there was a clause in the will that said that all gold was to be left to A while the household contents were to be left to B, there could well be a legitimate dispute as to who should get the gold.

Most of us don't have gold bricks in the back of the junk drawer, but we do have plenty of other items in our homes, cabins, and rental properties. Whenever you think of leaving a piece of property to someone, make sure that you also consider what is to happen to the furniture, the decor items, the contents of the garage, and small valuables such as jewelry. If you are not clear in your will, you could create confusion and disputes among the beneficiaries.

The attached photo of some of the inherited gold accompanied the BBC article and is credited to AFP/GETTY.


1 comment:

  1. This would be a good example of the difference between real and personal property. The house is real property and the contents is personal property.

    ReplyDelete

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