Distribution of personal property items is often one of the most difficult obstacles to a peaceful estate plan. The symbolic meaning of keepsakes carries a weight far in excess of their intrinsic value.
But a recent lawsuit discloses some personal items, particularly a handwritten recipe, that have explosive values. The heirs of the inventor of the Pepsi formula found their father’s written formula in a safe desposit box and now they want to share (or sell?) the document with historians and other interested persons.
“By this action, the heirs seek to eliminate any doubt that original, historically significant documents belonging to their deceased father, Richard John Ritchie (‘Ritchie’), who is historically acknowledged as the person who developed the original, commercially successful formula for Pepsi-Cola on or about 1931 (the ‘Ritchie Invention’), are their personal property, as his lawful heirs, which they may freely share with historians, collectors, journalists, and television and film producers, and ultimately, members of the interested public, to tell their father’s extraordinary life story without interference or the threat of litigation from Mr. Ritchie’s former employer, Pepsi,” the complaint begins.
Ritchie wrote down the formula, which was subsequently locked in a bank vault, the heirs say.
More on this interesting lawsuit can be found at Courthouse News Service.