Famed crime fighter Eliot Ness died in 1957. The probate of his estate was a relatively simple matter given that he left only a modest estate to his surviving spouse. For more than half a century, the Ness estate remained closed.

Now, the heirs of the man who brought charges against infamous mobster Al Capone are embroiled in an estate dispute brought about by the discovery of a long-lost stock certificate. The 50 shares of stock originally represented by the certificate have now multiplied to almost 30,000 with market value of $1.1 million.

A lawsuit filed in Florida federal court by the estate and heirs is asking a judge to rule that the company that issued the shares honor the stock certificate. The company has asked for dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that it has no record of it.

The case involves complex estate administration issues. One of them was the need reopen the long-closed estate and locate surviving heirs almost sixty years after Ness died.

One of the most important tasks when people probate an estate is to gather together the assets owned by the deceased at the time of his death. The executor takes control of the real and personal property in order to distribute them according to the terms of the will.

As this account of the lost stock certificate demonstrates, the search for assets of the deceased is not an easy task. A Palm Beach Gardens attorney might be of assistance with estate planning for individuals concerned about the distribution of their wealth after death.