People make mistakes in their estate plans all the time and have done so throughout American history. Quite often, something that was originally a good idea in an estate plan turns out to be a mistake later when circumstances change. That is what happened with the 1798 Will of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. The mistake he made was to nominate Thomas Jefferson as the Executor of his Will.
Kosciuszko left behind a large portion of his estate that was to be used to purchase slaves. The slaves were to be freed and given an education. As an outspoken opponent of slavery, Jefferson would have been an excellent choice for an Executor to carry out this task in 1798 when the Will was drafted. However, Kosciuszko did not pass away until 1817 by which time Jefferson’s health was failing. Jefferson had to decline the nomination to serve as Executor.
Litigation over Kosciuszko’s Will ensued. The eventual result was that none of his money went towards freeing slaves. Instead, his sisters received it all. This incident illustrates that you should review your estate plan from time to time to make sure that everything is still appropriate and that the people nominated to serve important roles in the estate are still capable of serving in those roles.
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