Estate of T. Rex Skeleton Landowner Is at the Center of Court Fight

The skeleton, which was found on a ranch in South Dakota in 1990 and later sold for more than $8 million, has been the subject of numerous legal challenges.

Darlene Williams died in 2020, more than a dozen years after the $8 million sale of a fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue that was found on her family’s ranch in South Dakota in 1990.

Now, her children are fighting over who should inherit her money, pointing to conflicting wills that Ms. Williams left, including one she signed shortly before her death.

It is the latest legal dispute spawned by Sue, a crown jewel of paleontology regarded as the most complete T. rex fossil ever found. The bones have been at the center of court cases almost from the moment fossil hunters found the 67 million-year-old gem of the Jurassic era.

Before her death in 2020, Ms. Williams had written two wills.

In a 2017 will, she appointed one of her daughters, Sandra Williams Luther, as the personal representative of her estate. In another will, written in 2020, she designated that same daughter to be her sole heir and the sole executor of her estate.

“Please do not fight amongst you all,” the 2020 will read. “I have lived with my children at odds for too many years.”

But another daughter, Jaqueline Schwartz, has argued in court that the second will is not legitimate and that it is legally flawed.

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