Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States was shot while watching a play on April 14 1865 and died the following day. As a lawyer, President, and at the age of 54 when average life expectancy was a little over 40 you would think that he would have made a Will – yes like a lot of people Abraham Lincoln hadn’t made a Will and died intestate.
On April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s son, Robert, contacted one of his fathers former law partners, 1860 Campaign manager, and family friend Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court, and asked him to take charge of his father’s affairs.
On June 16 letters of administration were issued to Davis, who took the oath to “well and truly administer the estate,” and signed an administrator’s bond for $160,000, as surety.
Mrs. Lincoln was entitled to one-third of the personal property and to chattels & an allowance sufficient to maintain her and her children for a period of a year. No record of a widow’s award is found in the estate papers, although she probably received the chattels to which she was entitled.
Davis initially reported that he believed the Estate was worth $85,000 and would be divided between Lincoln’s widow and his two surviving children. The estate was eventually settled in November of 1867, with a value of $110,296.80 to be divided into three equal shares.
The message to take from this is that you should make a Will as Administration of an estate is usually more difficult than seeking probate – and will make a difficult time for your family and friends even more so.