An Unexpected Event
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
"I'm afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in my house."
I recently got this humorous story in my email. I think you will like it!
Jack decided to go snow skiing with his buddy, Dan. They loaded up Jack's minivan and headed north. After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard. They pulled into a long driveway that led to an impressive country estate and knocked on the door. A very attractive lady answered the door and they asked if they could spend the night.
The lady said, "I realize its terrible weather out there and I have this huge home all to myself, but I'm recently widowed," she explained. "I'm afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in my house."
"Don't worry", said Jack, "We'll be happy to sleep in the barn. When the weather breaks we'll be gone at first light."
The lady agreed and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.
Come morning, the weather had cleared and they got on their way. They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing.
But about nine months later, Jack got an unexpected letter from an attorney. It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow they had met on the ski weekend.
He dropped in on his friend Dan and asked, "Dan, do you remember that good-looking widow whose barn we stayed in during the blizzard about nine months ago?"
"Yes, I do," said Dan.
"Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night and go up to the house and pay her a little visit?"
"Well, um, yes!," Dan said, a little embarrassed about being found out, "I have to admit that I did."
"And did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?"
Dan's face turned beet red and he said, "Yeah, look, I'm sorry buddy. I'm afraid I did. Why do you ask?"
"SHE JUST DIED AND LEFT ME EVERYTHING!"
Now that's a pretty cute story and I got a chuckle out of it, but now, (as Paul Harvey used to say), here's the rest of the story.....
Our new beneficiary Jack, (attorney letter in hand), headed off to the lawyer's office to claim his inheritance! He arrived and was ushered in and he sat down ready to get the keys to the "fine country estate" he had just inherited. His bags were packed and in the trunk of his car and he was ready to move in that day!
The attorney was polite enough but rather discouraging at least in the short run.
"Here is a copy of the Last Will and Testament and you certainly are named as the only beneficiary. Unfortunately a will is a document that does nothing at all without taking it to court for the initiation of a probate proceeding."
Jack had heard the word "probate" before when his uncle died and his Dad had to go through that process and his memory of it was not pleasant. In fact his father had grumbled about it for years.
"First", the attorney went on, "we file the papers and get the executor appointed. Then the executor will have the authority to round up the money, pay all the claims and creditors, pay all the taxes and then you get your estate, or whatever is left over." "How long?" asked Jack.
"Well at a minimum: four to six months. We file the probate, we publish in the paper which starts the 90 day period for the creditors to file their claims" he stated. "The best thing for you is to go home and continue life as you were until I let you know that the estate is finished."
Jack went home and over the next several months he was showered with accountings, court documents, copies of claims, lawsuits over the claims, settlement offers to settle claims, interim accountings, and appraisals. There was even a "will contest" lawsuit by a long lost nephew that somehow thought he was entitled to something. The lawsuits over the claims took months to settle and then there were all the fees to be paid to the appraisers, accountants, attorneys, surveyors, the list went on and on.
Two and a half years later Jack is finally moving into the inherited property, signing his name to the bank accounts and beginning to enjoy his inheritance. There is a final hearing in front of the Judge to close out the probate proceeding and Jack is waiting in the hall of the courthouse with the probate attorney to be called in to finalize this nightmare. A man approaches Jack and asks him his name. When Jack replies the man hands him a paper and says, "You've been served!"
The probate attorney says, "Let me see that!" He reads through it and announces to Jack, "You are being sued by your buddy Dan. He claims that he is the real beneficiary and it was a case of mistaken identity!"
Jack rolls his eyes and wonders if this ordeal will ever end.
The Moral of the Story: Probate can be a dirty word and having just a will guarantees a probate. I suggest you take a look at a Revocable Living Trust. NO PROBATE REQUIRED!!! Give us a call for your free initial consultation. Call Suzi at 904-824-4278 and tell her you want to avoid probate and you want to discuss a trust. Knowledge is power and inquiring minds want to know! "I'll look forward to visiting with you, soon!"
Joseph L. Boles, Jr. Attorney at Law
Boles Law Firm (904) 824-4278
Originally published in the St. Augustine Woman's Journal October 2017