Tim* wrote to YourLifeChoices recently asking us to warn our members about the dangers of not leaving a will.
He explained that when his grandmother died, his mother and her three siblings were to be the beneficiaries of her estate. She had asked that on her death, she be transported back to her homeland to be buried with her husband and mother. Tim’s mother paid for this before the estate was finalised.
Tim wrote: “It was well known to everyone in our community of what sacrifices my mother did for her mother, but upon her death everything changed. And the common denominator was money.
“One of the siblings’ thinking was that her mother had no debts, was receiving multiple income streams and had never really bought any assets. So she should have loads of money and why is it taking so long to settle her estate.
“I had to explain the process, that we had to pay for the final costs of the funeral and the transportation of her remains overseas and when the final bill comes in for her headstone, we can finalise everything.
“As she had no will, we wanted to finalise the costs and then sit down and disburse the funds. Being family, we thought this would have been a simple process.
“It went the other way. Solicitors were engaged by two of the siblings. Accusations were made of misappropriation of funds and in the process of responding to these claims, they secretly applied to the courts to become administrators of the estate – something we were not aware of and were not even given the option of being appointed joint administrators.
“That left us in the dark, having to defend ourselves in every matter involving the finances of my grandmother.
“In the end, the estate took three years to finalise, cost $50,000 (which came out of the estate, which in effect meant that all the beneficiaries ended up paying for someone else’s greed.
“It affected us all emotionally as well as financially. To think that your own family could have done this was beyond us. It was so bad that when my father passed away, none of the siblings that started the legal process came to his funeral, or their children.
“We have disowned them. Unfortunately, the emotional effect will go on forever.”
Tim implores everyone – young and old – to prepare a will. And that’s the topic of our Friday Flash Poll today.
* Not his real name.
Do you have any advice with regard to preparing a will? Have you been involved in any family dramas due to the writing of a will?