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In a recent blog post, we shared the news that former Zappos CEO Tony Hseith died unexpectedly, apparently without a Will. More information about his estate has been released to the public, and it’s messy. Inside the 46-year old’s Park City, Utah mansion, his family apparently found thousands of color-coded sticky notes. Some of the notes appeared to reference financial commitments to businesses, his employees, and friends.
These notes may be treated as informal contracts by the court charged with handling the probate administration of Hseith’s estate. However, it is unlikely they will simply be assumed to be valid agreements and paid out of the estate without objections from Hseith’s heirs who will be entitled to share in what is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
One likely objection to treating the sticky notes as valid contracts is that Hseith was reportedly abusing drugs and alcohol in the months leading up to his death, according to those closest to him. If true, this calls into question Hseith’s mental state and ability to enter into legal agreements, whether related to employment, investments, or any other transaction.
If Hseith’s friends, business partners, employees, or others want to pursue enforcement of the sticky notes as legal contracts, the court will need to review available evidence and make determinations based on information presented. While there is no way at this point to know how such decisions will turn out, it is safe to say this new development could significantly lengthen the timeline for settling Hseith’s estate.
None of us knows what our futures hold. The best way to ensure your estate assets pass according to your wishes is to document those wishes in trust agreements and/or Wills, and to use legal documents to appropriately document business matters.
To learn more about how The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center can help minimize the risk that your estate will require a lengthy, complicated probate proceeding when you die, contact us today!