Earlier this month we discussed the unique estate issues connected to the murder of a wealthy investor named Raveesh Kumra. Mr. Kumra was murdered during a robbery late last year. It has since been learned that the suspects include several men with connections to alleged prostitutes with whom Kumra apparently was connected. It is a tragic situations all the way around, and the man’s family was understandably blindsided by the situation.
Making matters worse, a significant battle over Kumra’s estate has been waged by various parties since the death. It is an example of the unique court challenges that often result when comprehensive estate planning is not conducted and all possible issues are not analyzed as part of that plan.
As discussed in a new Mercury News story, the main estate issue centers on other women whom Mr. Kumra apparently had relationships, including the possibility of various children born from those relationships. Earlier this year a court already ordered that two children alleged to have been fathered by Kumra were entitled to a monthly allowance from the estate. A judge ordered several thousand dollars to be paid to those children per month until the remaining estate issues were decided.
The man’s ex-wife (with whom he he still lived at the time of his death) and his two adult children from that marriage have refused to acknowledge that those other children are related. They refused a paternity test, but the court in the case found that paternity existed anyway from other evidence.
Now, the family has voiced concerns that they fear other women may come forward with similar claims. They are challenging the validity of the claims, but suggest that the mere possibility of gaining funds may allow the estate to be “fleeced” by false claims. One family member argued, “We are also hearing that there are other women waiting in the wings so they can claim the same thing. So we’re very concerned about the larger plot at hand to defraud the estate.”
All of this is on top of the fact that the same judge is still deliberating to determine if the other two children should inherit an equal share of the estate with the children born to his ex-wife.
The lesson: Even if it is impossible prevent all claims on an estate, taking account of the most likely legal challenges is crucial. Also, using more sophisticated tools, like trusts, that pass on assets automatically, outside of the court, ensure that the intended beneficiaries are forced to jump through far fewer hoops before finalizing the property transfers and ending the matter.