Four years later, and my Father's estate is almost settled : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

My Father was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer, and no treatment options. I will never forget the day he called to tell me the news. He died in my arms, less than six weeks later. Without a will. We discussed it openly, immediately after his diagnosis, as to how he wanted the few small properties he owned divided between his wife and his 6 kids. My Mom has been gone many years, and he and Mary had been together for 8 years, married for 7 of them. Well, you know the rest of the story, we've all heard it before. She called me today to tell me she's keeping everything, which is 3 rental properties and the cash in the estate. I've been living in the house that was to go to my sisters and I, paying rent to the estate, over $20,000 so far. The lawyer had asked us to let her collect the rents until she turned 62 and could collect SS, in addition to her pension. We reluctently agreed. (After my Dad died, she quit an excellent job three months before she was eligible for full pension, which caused her to have immediate financial problems.) When my Mom died, my Dad had his pension put in my sister's name. Never remembered to have it put in Mary's name, though. It was an honest mistake, because we'd talked about it while he was alive, that Mary would have that money coming in. So since we knew my Dad thought Mary was going to get his pension, my sister signed it over to her for 3 years, over $1000 a month. Unfortunately, we're screwed. NY State law gives the widow everything up to the first $200,000.00, or some such figure. All this is worth much less.

So, the moral of this story is.......please make yourselves a will. And thank you for letting me vent. I'm afraid it may take a few days for this to really sink in. I need your prayers and support. Pray that I can conduct myself in a Christian manner, because I will tell you, I somehow kept my cool when she just called. I did not raise my voice, I calmly said "You do what you need to do. I'm not going to get into an argument with you. I don't know how you can sleep at night". And I hung up the phone.

This doesn't change my plans any. In 6 months, I'm moving to Missouri. The few hundred dollars I would have gotten as my share of renting this house was never a certainty in my mind. I know that God and my Dad are proud of the way we kids have conducted ourselves. I can sleep tonight. Thanks for being there for me.

-- Cathy in NY (, October 31, 2001


Once again, greed rears it's ugly head. "Mary" sure seems to be showing her fear and ignorance. It's so sad that MONEY, which is actually nothing more than little pieces of paper and metal, seems to come before integrity, intelligence, honor, ethics, morals, and standards. Had a similar thing happen when my ex died - his second wife had nagged until he'd turned everything over to her, leaving NOTHING for our 4 children. What a shame.

However, I really believe that the first law of the Universe is "What goes around, comes around". "Mary" will get what she gives - I'll bet you can count on it! My ex's second wife ended up broke, sick, on tranquilizers, etc. No-one knows where she is now. The guilt finally got to her.

-- Bonnie (, October 31, 2001.

Cathy, I'm very sorry for your loss. And your current strife.

For you, and others, I have a suggestion which will make it much easier on your descendants: investigate drawing up, or having drawn up, a "Living Trust".

With this trust, several things are accomplished. Probably the most important is the fact that there will not be a need for probate. Probate seems to be a lawyer's meal ticket.

The trust will can also save the descendants a lot of money, if the estate is worth more than about $600,000. I know this only applies to a small percentage of us normal folks, but you never know.

The trust also is a way to make darn sure that the money and other valuables you have earned during your lifetime are inherited by the folks you want to have it. In this sense, it's like a will, but since no probate is involved, no lawyers will be able to eat up the entire estate in probate costs.

I'm not a lawyer, and am only sharing this because my uncle died with a will; his estate was worth way over a million bucks. The probate took almost all of it; the rest was split between all his nieces and nephews, basically. Without probate, we'd have each been bequeathed over $70,000 each. I'm not sweating it, as I did nothing to deserve it anyway, but it bugs me that the lawyers, and the bankers, made out like bandits.

I set up a living trust (actually the lawyer who drew it up called it a "loving trust", since it love for my wife and kids was the driving force behind my (and my wife's) decision to spend some $1200 to set it up.

Cathy, I hope you'll investigate this, so that YOUR kids, and your husband won't have to go through what you had to.


-- joj (jump@off.c), October 31, 2001.

I forgot to mention that your heirs won't be waiting for four years to get the estate settled, either, if you have a living trust.


-- joj (jump@off.c), October 31, 2001.

I know from experience how it made you feel. My grandmother practically raised me ( in WV) as my mother didn't want me. In turn, I pretty much spent my growing up years painting my grandmother's rental properties, keeping the landscaping up, helping her clean, etc. My mother and grandmother didn't have a relationship to speak of.

My grandmother promised her two houses to me because I was more of a daughter than my mother ever was and because I gave up a lot of my childhood to help her keep what little income she had coming in. She was disabled.

One week before she died, my mother suddenly remembers her own mother. She calls me in FL from NC to tell me that my granmother is in the hospital dieing, but not to worry she'll take care of everything.

When I got up there, they were waiting for a family member to help make arrangements as she wasn't to herself and couldn't sign anything. I had never dealt with anything like this before in my life and it was very painful but I trudged through most of what needed to be done as far as the hospital was concerned and taking care of her properties.

My mom finally showed up a couple of days later and pushes me out of the way and tells me to go home. They moved into her house, which left me without a place to stay.

I was really hurt, not because my grandmother never made out a will, but because my mother was so insensitive and heartless. I told her about a month after my grandmother had died that all I wanted was my grandmother's sewing machine and I was told that she had already sold it!

I grieved not for the monetary value but for the familiarity of my grandmothers things. They would have been comforting.

My mother died less than five years later with a brain tumor. Now I don't know if it had anything to do with how she treated me, or if it had more to do with nature, but I found it odd that she died so young.

I didn't go to her funeral, not because I begrudged her any of it, but because my abusive stepfather would have been there and I didn't want to have to deal with my grief and him too.

God is just, and what is taken from us is given back to us even better than what we lost.

-- Stephanie Nosacek (, October 31, 2001.

This situation is WAY too common, I hear about it more than I would like to in my work. Statistics show that more than 70% of Americans do not have a comprehensive will or living trust. This really leaves the families in the cold and the lawyers and state governments getting richer by the day. One of the main reasons people give for not having it done is the cost. A comprehensive will drawn up by a lawyer in our area is $300.00 or more, and JOJ let you know what living trusts run.

The best thing that ALL families can do for themselves is to buy a family plan membership from PRE-PAID LEGAL SERVICES, Inc. Included in the low monthly premium is a comprehensive will drawn up by an attorney... at no extra charge, with free yearly reviews and updates. And things like living trusts are done at a discount of at least 25% off of the standard rates.

If anyone would like more info on this, please feel free to e-mail me.

-- Uncle Jake (, October 31, 2001.

Cathy, I am sorry that you have had to go through this....I really don't get people. You can't go to heaven with a Uhaul in tow and if you don't believe in heaven you will just be spending a ton of money on the bulldozer needed to keep "stuff" with ya. I'm sorry for all of you experiencing this greed.

Jake, I contacted Pre paid Legal Services and they refused to consider doing anything with a person who insisted on complying with the law and not giving an SS#. They, as a matter of fact, told me that you could NOT be a participant in Pre Paid Legal Services unlees you gave them an SS#. This to me implied that they really had no idea what the law says about things. Here's one link: No SSN

A friend who has the service told me that he wasn't asked to give it after he informed them that he didn't give it out. What do you say on that?? Thanks!

-- Doreen (, October 31, 2001.

Doreen, that is a very good question! I have posted it with company headquarters, and will let you know as soon as I find out!!

-- Uncle Jake (, November 01, 2001.

Good for you Cathy, for keeping your cool. God will take care of the matter, you may or may not find out the outcome, but no one ever gets away with anything they do wrong.

-- Cindy (S.E.IN) (, November 04, 2001.

I wish I could say I was cool, calm and collected. I haven't had heat since 10/19, and she has been horrible. She is denying (sp?) some of the nasty things she said to me, causing my honesty to be questioned. I may have to leave here sooner than planned, for my sanity, or because she'll evict me. (In NY you don't have to have a reason, 30 days notice and you're out!) I am incredibly upset over this.

-- Cathy in NY (, November 04, 2001.

Cathy, so sorry for everything you have been through. But I am also a firm believer in what goes around, comes around. And if nothing does "come around" to Mary, she will still have God to answer to, and possibly your father. Good luck with everthing!

-- Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania (, November 04, 2001.

Cathy, I was so sorry to read of how poorly you have been treated here. I recently lost my father, and the grief of that alone has been almost unbearable. I am blessed that all his affairs were in order because at a time like this I could not think. I give you a lot of credit for the way you have handled yourself and this situation. Unfortunately, there are people who live only for this world and the riches they can earn (or take) while here. Short sighted really, as I believe God treats you as you treat others. I hope Mary will soon see what price she is to pay for her selfishness. And I hope that you see from your many responses that you are in many people's thoughts and prayers. I am sorry for you to have to bear the loss of your father, and I am sorry that you have to deal with the financial issues as well. I am glad to see that you have conducted yourself in a way that would make God proud. I will pray that God continues to give you strength and solace during this time.

-- Rob Sizer (, February 07, 2002.

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