A lawyer based in Florida is claiming that a trust fund established by his deceased friend was improperly executed. The attorney claims to have been present when his friend signed documents leaving much of his $50 million estate to a trust fund that was meant to provide food to impoverished children in Panama. The man's wife then accused the attorney of persuading her husband to create the trust so that he could control it.

A probate court removed the attorney as executor of the estate, but the will was confirmed to be valid. After several additional appeals, the Supreme Court of Panama removed the charitable trust as the beneficiary of the man's fortune and granted it to his widow. Before the Supreme Court ruling, the woman was set to receive a monthly allowance of $20,000 and use of the couple's marital home.

The attorney and several other individuals challenged the outcome. The Supreme Court decided to review the case a second time, but no ruling has been issued. The attorney and friend of the decedent now believes the judges in the final appeal accepted bribes of $1.5 million each and filed a complaint accusing them of racketeering.

The Florida lawyer has also sued the man's widow, some of her children and several Panamanian officials, accusing them of violating a set of laws known as RICO, which are intended to combat corruption. The attorney is requesting damages of $732 million for himself and on the behalf of the charitable trust, arguing that his friend's estate was wrongfully taken from the poor children of Panama. Since the will was drafted, the estate has dramatically increased in value and is now estimated at $150 million.

Arguments over wills are certainly not unheard of. In order to make sure your assets and wishes are protected, it is important to create a solid estate plan.

Source: Forbes, "$150 Million Trust Fund Stolen from Poor Children in Panama, Lawsuit Claims," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Oct. 3, 2011