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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. still embroiled in litigation

As many residents of the Saint Paul area may already be aware, the heirs to the fortune and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., whom many Minnesotans will commemorate in the upcoming days, have been engaged on ongoing litigation over many aspects of the late civil rights leader's estate. This litigation recently received national attention.

In the latest battle, a court could possibly make a final decision on the fate of both Dr. King's Bible and the medal he received with his Nobel Peace Prize. Neither the Bible nor the prize have been on public display, except that President Obama used King's Bible when he took the oath of office in early 2013.

One heir of the estate contends that neither one of these items should be sold. While the items are indeed of sentimental value to the family, the heir also argues that because Dr. King gave the Bible to his wife at one point, that the Bible is no longer under the custody and control of the estate.

On the other hand, the personal representatives of the King estate, two surviving sons, argue that they have the right to sell the property and have a legitimate need to do so. If sold, the prize medal could net the estate up to $10 million, and, in the best case scenario, the Bible could net $1 million. In this respect, the estate has already sold some of Dr. King's personal affects, some of which are now located at Dr. King's former college.

This is not the first time in which the family has had a dispute over the acts on behalf of the estate; in fact, a few years ago, the surviving siblings filed a series of lawsuits against each other, at least one of which is still active.

Source: WTOP, "Judge could rule in dispute over MLK Bible and Nobel medal," Kate Brumback, Jan. 11, 2015.

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