When estate planning includes assets that are later stolen

Not every Louisiana estate owner dies with all financial and other personal affairs neatly organized and set for the estate administration process. Then again, some who do execute thorough estate planning actions still wind up leaving family members with complicated problems to resolve. An estate executor for former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis's first cousin is currently entangled in such circumstances, claiming that the owner of a particular art gallery is in possession of a portrait that is rightfully owned by his aunt's estate.

It appears that Onassis's father commissioned her portrait when she was approximately age 19. When her father died, he bequeathed the portrait to his sister. After her death and upon the deathbed of her daughter, a nephew who was slated as her estate executor was told that the portrait had been stolen in a burglary that the family never reported to local authorities.

The executor, acting on behalf of his aunt's estate, has since filed a lawsuit against the owner of the art gallery. He said he first simply requested that the gallery owner return the portrait to its rightful owners or produce evidence of his valid purchase of the artwork. The man refused to hand over the painting, insisting that he purchased it from an antiques dealer who has since died, but refusing to name that dealer.

This complicated situation will now be left to the court's discretion to determine the rightful owner of the portrait. The estate executor says the family of the former First Lady looks forward to regaining the family heirloom and important artifact of the nation's history. Those in Louisiana trying to overcome similar estate administration problems may turn to experienced estate planning attorneys for support.

Source: New York Daily News, "'Grey Gardens' estate sues Long Island gallery for owning stolen Jackie Kennedy painting", Andrew Keshner, Feb. 10, 2018

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