In a bizarre care, a woman in New Hampshire admitted in court that she told police that she dug up her father’s grave in search of his “real will” but was rewarded with only vodka and cigarettes. Melanie Nash, 53, pleaded guilty last week as one of four people who opened her father’s vault and rifled through his casket last May.
According to the prosecutor, the scene was reminiscent of an Edgar Allen Poe tale. Ms. Nash believed that she was unjustly shorted out of her part of her father’s estate when he died in 2004. She did not receive anything when he died and had been thinking of digging up her father’s grave for years to try and prove that her sister hid the will in his casket. Her sister, Susie Nash, has always maintained that there was only one will created in 1995 along with the rest of the estate planning documents and that everyone involved in the process knew about it.
In Search of the Real Will
Melanie Nash gave a written statement to police last June admitting that she met up with three other people at the cemetery last May and that “All this was done for the right reasons and I know my father would be OK with it.” She then added that “What we all did was to dig up my father’s coffin, Eddie Nash, looking for documents. We did it with respect.” Two of the three other people pleaded guilty to their offenses and the third was acquitted.
Ms. Nash’s attorney claimed that the statement was inadmissible because the statement was given before her Miranda rights were read, but the judge ruled that the statements were given freely to the police after a warrant had been issued for her arrest and she voluntarily gave the statements. She was supposed to go to trial in March but instead pleaded guilty to charges of criminal mischief, interference with a cemetery, conspiracy and abuse of a corpse.
Her father, Eddie Nash, died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 68. He was the founder of an equipment business in 1979 that is still run by his family today. Melanie Nash’s sister Susie told the media that since the incident her father has been reburied. Melanie Nash will face sentencing for her crimes on May 5.
Estate Planning Lessons
There are a few important takeaway lessons from this story regarding estate planning. First and foremost is the importance of communication. It is important to communicate with everyone who may be affected by your will and estate plan to know that you are drafting a will. Second, it is equally important to communicate with family members or others who expect to share in the estate but have been written out. It can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it can avoid awkward situations like this one later down the road. Finally, review the estate plan with everyone that is involved, and if you make any updates or changes to the estate be sure to communicate that with others so that there are no surprises when the estate is distributed.