Would You Dig Up a Grave? For $50 Million?

06/23/2015

A New York woman went to court to force a DNA test to prove that the man on her birth certificate was not her father. Unfortunately, it involved digging up a grave.

Yes, this one is ripped right from the headlines - in this case, from the New York Post, which is infamous for its colorful headlines: "Woman digs up dead dad to get 'real' father's $50M."

Nina Sebastiana Viola Montepagani asked a court for permission to dig up the body of the man who was listed as her father on her birth certificate, who raised her and who she called "Daddy." They say that everyone has a price. Hers was $50 million.

The grave was exhumed so that she would get a DNA test done to prove that he was not her father and have her birth certificate changed. All of this sprang from a piece of family history that may or may not be true.

The family story claims that Ms. Montepagani's mother, while she was young and still living in Italy, was romantically linked with an Italian physician, Dr. Sebastiano Raeli. She was eight months pregnant, the legend says, when she sailed to America and married the man who reared Ms. Montepagani as his own and who is named on Nina's birth certificate.

Why disprove the fatherhood of the man who raised and loved her?

Because if she is Dr. Raeli's daughter, she would be his only heir and stands to inherit $50 million.

The court approved the request, the body was exhumed, and the results of the DNA test indeed show that the man who raised her was not her genetic father.

We don't know if the Italian court will require Nina to next undertake a DNA test to prove that she is his rightful heir. Just because a New York court approves doing a DNA test on a corpse doesn't mean the Italian court will feel compelled to follow suit.

Does your family have some unsavory stories? Even if it doesn't, contact an estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate is prepared for unexpected situations.

Reference: New York Post (June 13, 2015) "Woman digs up dead dad to get 'real' father's $50M."