Exhume Me?

November 29, 2017

Have you ever wondered what happens to your property if you die without a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) and have no living relatives? In Florida, if you die without a Will and have no living relatives at the time of your death, (assuming you did not set up a Trust or had beneficiaries listed on your accounts) then your property will “escheat” to the state. Meaning that the state of Florida will receive all of your property. If this happens and a long lost relative claims to be family after your death; then your body may be exhumed for DNA testing to prove or disprove a claim to your property.

A case in point is a claim by Pilar Abel stating that she is the only daughter of the famous artist Salvador Dali. Dali was buried in 1989 and Abel has been after a conclusive paternity test for the last ten years. After filing a claim against the Spanish state to whom Dali left his fortune, Dali’s body was unearthed on July, 20 2017 to collect genetic samples. If DNA testing proves Abel’s relation to Dali, then she is entitled to a quarter of Dali’s estate.

Two months later the DNA results came in.  Pilar Abel is not his daughter.  Dali was exhumed in vain.  While Abel has a legal right to pursue her claim there is an easier way to receive your inheritance without having to exhume a corpse. An effective estate plan will designate beneficiaries to receive your property upon your death and will avoid the uncomfortable situation of having to unearth your remains in order to conduct DNA testing.