The Larry Hillblom Story--Case in Point for Updating Your Estate Plan Although you may not

be familiar with the name Larry Hillblom, you have probably used the company he founded or at least heard of it. Hillblom was one of the founding partners of the international shipping company DHL. In fact, the “H” stands for Hillblom. Hillblom is also famous for the multi-national legal battle over his estate that followed his death. After Hillblom made his fortune, he decided to escape to the small tropical island of Saipan. Hillblom lived there, without marrying, until a plane he was traveling in on an island hop went missing in 1995. At the time of his death, Hillblom’s estate was valued at close to $600 million. Although Hillblom executed a Last Will and Testament in 1982, the Will was flawed in more than one way. Most importantly, it had nothing in it that addressed any future children that Hillblom might father. The Will left the majority of Hillblom’s massive estate to a trust with instructions that the money was to be used for medical research by the University of California. Shortly after his death, four different women came forward claiming that Hillblom was the father of their child--one was still pregnant at the time. Subsequent DNA tests proved that Hillblom was, indeed, the father of all four children. A legal battle that was waged in both the United States and Saipan ensued. Five years, 200 lawyers, and an untold amount of money later, the children of Hillblom were awarded 60 percent of his estate with the balance to be used to fund the trust created by the original Will. Whether Hillblom would have voluntarily included these children in his Will or not, we will never know. Hillblom certainly could have updated his Will to include a bequest to the children in an amount less than, or more than, what they were ultimately awarded. Hillblom also could have chosen to specifically disinherit the children. Since he did neither of these, we will never know what his intentions or wishes were. Even if you are not fortunate enough to have a $600 million estate, the lessons learned from Hillblom apply--update your estate plan on a regular basis and particularly when life changes require revisions. Experienced estate planning attorneys Atlanta GA of the Pyke & Associates P.C. offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Atlanta GA. To learn more about these free resources, please visit today.

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