Max Hopper served as an American Airlines executive, innovating customer reservation technology at the company. While he transformed American’s infrastructure for customers’ upcoming flights, Hopper never planned for his own lift-off. He died in 2010 without a Will or Trust, leaving no plans for his $19 million in assets. JP Morgan Chase Bank was handed the reins to his estate, a prolonged ordeal worse than an in-flight movie ensued.
A Texas jury recently found the bank committed fraud and breached its fiduciary duty. Among other failures, the bank failed to distribute assets five years after Hopper’s death. The jury awarded millions in compensable damages and billions of dollars in punitive damages. The jury’s verdict and the bank’s malfeasance showcase the perils of leaving your family with no flight path and your estate with no pilot. Even people without Hopper’s wealth should have a plan in place and should nominate a trustworthy person or institution to see that plan executed.