Maryland residents may be interested to know that entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte has filed suit against the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. This probate litigationinvolves three historical documents relating to some of Dr. King's activities that Belafonte wishes to sell at auction. The lawsuit requests a court declaration stating that the documents belong to him along with unspecified damages.
The documents in question are a condolence letter to Coretta Scott King from President Lyndon B. Johnson, an outline of a speech about the Vietnam War written by Dr. King and the notes to a speech Dr. King never got to deliver in Memphis, Tenn. Belafonte alleges in the lawsuit that he tried to auction the items in 2008 but was blocked by the King estate.
The lawsuit goes on to explain that the condolence letter was given to Belafonte by King's widow approximately 10 years ago after she admired a collection of historical documents he had displayed in his home. It is alleged by Belafonte that Dr. King left the outline to the Vietnam speech in Belafonte's apartment. The notes to the speech to be given in Memphis were found in Dr. King's pocket after he was assassinated and passed onto a long-time confident. When the confident died in 1979, his widow is alleged to have given the speech to Belafonte.
Challenges to estates can be difficult. It may be wise to allow a probate attorney to review the case if a family is having issues with the disposition of a family member's personal items. An attorney may be able to negotiate a solution that could help avoid a costly court battle.