King’s Kids Quarrel Over Ownership Rights

MLK, Jr.’s Children Argue About Bible and Nobel Peace Prize

Last month, we honored the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on a day set aside for people to remember the civil rights leader and his peaceful messages. Unfortunately, as recently reported by the Associated Press, his three surviving children – Martin Luther King III, Dexter King and Bernice King – are embroiled in a legal battle over some of the late, great orator’s personal belongings.

The items the surviving King children are fighting over include King’s personal bible that he carried with him everywhere and the Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to him in 1964. Coretta Scott King, MLK’s wife and mother of their four children, died in 2006. Yolanda King was the eldest of the four King children, she died of heart complications in 2007. Bernice King is in possession of the items and she believes her brothers want to sell them.

Keeping the Peace

Drafting a will that details the disposition of your property is a crucial piece to estate planning. A will creates clarity about your intentions. A will may also prevent potential disagreements among family members. While few are honored with a Nobel Peace Prize – there are other praiseworthy awards, mementos and heirlooms that individuals cherish and want to keep in the family or perhaps donate to another cause. Each family has its own unique dynamics – and more likely than not – it is best for you to decide what to do with your cherished treasures and other belongings after you pass, rather than have your estate go through probate and have a court decide. A well drafted last will and testament does not leave your family members and other loved ones guessing what you would want.

Everyone should have a will – there is a misnomer that only extremely rich individuals need to leave behind a will, and this is simply not true. A will is a key component to an estate plan that should be had by all, no matter the economic bracket.

Wills in California

The state of California allows for three different types of wills:

1. Lawyer prepared will – An estate planning attorney assists in drafting a will.

2. Will form – This is basically a form that has blanks to fill in.

3. Holographic will – This is a handwritten will.

No matter the type of will you decide to draft, it is best to check with an experienced estate planning attorney to confirm that your will complies with all applicable California state laws and regulations.

California Estate Planning

In order to ensure your final wishes are carried out – it is imperative to draft and frequently update your estate plan – including your will – with an experienced California estate planning attorney.

The Law Office of Mark Abell is experienced in all estate planning aspects. We create and customize your estate plan to suit your needs. We are also able to assist you in updating your existing estate plan. To discuss your personal estate plan, contact our office today at 310-489-0707 or