You probably do not know who James Iredell was. Most Americans don’t. He is one of those forgotten great men to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States. He was never the most famous, but he was an important one. Iredell was an advocate for revolution and for Constitutional ratification. He was even appointed by George Washington to serve as one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court.
Because of his importance in the early years of the nation, Iredell’s personal papers are of great historical interest. A dispute over them that began with an estate planning mistake has recently been resolved. An Iredell descendent, loaned the papers to the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1910. However, he neglected to mention the papers in his Will. Until recently, his descendants thought the papers were given as a gift. When they discovered the error, they asked for the papers back and were refused. The North Carolina Court of Appeals has recently ruled in the heirs’ favor and ordered the return of the papers.
The important lesson to learn from this is to not leave anything out of your Will. If you do, your heirs could be fighting for it years later.
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