In my profession we have an expression: “You never know anyone until you share an inheritance with them”.
It is a true revealer of character. In my work as a lawyer specialising in Wills and estates, I am witness to some appalling human behaviour.
Due to the popularity of this series of articles, here are some more examples as cautionary tales:
An old man lies dying in a hospital bed. His Will was made less than a year earlier, leaving everything equally between his 3 kids.
As his health fails, child1 persuades him to sell one of his pieces of real estate “to make things easier”. The old man signs the contract for sale, but dies before the proceeds of sale are paid.
Child1 is the sole executor of the Will. As executor, Child1 nominates for the proceeds of the property sale to be transferred into a bank account jointly owned by the old man and child1.
Child1 does not include this asset in the inventory of estate assets, claiming that because the old man has died, that bank account (and its contents) pass by right of survivorship to child1 outside of the old man’s estate.
A 12-month Court battle ensues where child2 and child3 claim that the proceeds of sale of that property are an estate asset in which they should share.
Eventually they succeed, but the estate has lost the better part of $100,000 in various legal costs.
Lawyers (and their fees) get a bad reputation, but very frequently it gets back to the bad behaviour (often involving greed) of one or more of the litigants.
How confident are you that EVERYONE (including partners and kids’ partners) will behave honourably, fairly and reasonably in your family? Until temptation and opportunity present themselves, you never know anyone …
Genders and Partners is the oldest law firm in South Australia, established 1848. Contact us to learn how to protect yourself, your family and your assets by assisting you to administer a deceased estate, by visiting our website today and schedule a free no obligation telephone consultation to find out how we can help protect you and yours.
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Why home-made Wills can be a LOT more expensive than you might think.
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The Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes, how they can cost your family a fortune, and How to Avoid Them.
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How to guard against challenges to your Estate after you’re gone.