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Nevada residents may sympathize with probate nightmare

When Nevada residents enter the estate planning process, they trust that their wishes will be carried out in detail, with each asset and account properly passed on to the right party. Unfortunately, unforeseen events can quickly throw a solid estate plan into a probate nightmare, or worse. Such appears to be the case for one family who is still awaiting a resolution of an estate matter dating back more than six decades.

In 1926, a Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting was purchased by an out-of-state man. In 1937, his ex-wife loaned the painting to a museum, where it remained until her death. Court records indicate that the woman had bequeathed her art collection and any remaining assets to the museum upon her death. Before the probate process could be completed, the painting was stolen from the museum in 1951.

In an unusual turn of events, the painting resurfaced in 2012, 62 years after the painting was stolen in Baltimore. It had been placed for auction in Virginia. When the FBI seized the painting and investigated further, it was discovered that a woman whose mother lived in Baltimore and studied as an art student at the time of the theft had arranged for the auction of the painting. The woman claimed that she purchased the painting at a flea market, though court records and testimony may suggest otherwise.

In the hope of resolving this estate matter, the Baltimore Museum of Art has sought a summary judgment in Virginia to declare the museum as the rightful owner of the painting. Though the past 62 years have undoubtedly been difficult for anyone involved in this probate matter, it appears that the family of the woman who originally bequeathed the painting to the museum may finally see the wishes of their loved one honored. Nevada residents may sympathize with the challenges presented by the administration of this particular estate. Fortunately, with the right plan and system of support, their wishes can be upheld no matter how difficult the journey.

Source:, Case of stolen Renoir to be heard in Alexandria on Friday, Gregg MacDonald, Jan. 10, 2014

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