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  • randy1001

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

Actually, it wasn't funny -- I just couldn't think of a good title so I started with this.


A client came to see me recently because her husband passed away. She was upset because her husband's two children thought their father was going to leave everything to them. Well, he didn't. Turned out that he left her a life estate in the house and the real estate and all the personal property.


But he left some life insurance money to the children and instructions that if his wife moved out of the house, the house would be appraised at fair market value (sort of code for using a licensed appraiser and not a friendly guess on the value of the house.) Once the house was appraised, each of the children would get an opportunity to buy the house at 2/3rds of the appraised value. Those funds would be split between the non--buying child and the wife.


Once the children figured out they weren't going to inherit the house outright, the family feud began in earnest. One son lived on the property in a camper and illegally hooked up electricity and water to the recreational vehicle. The other child walked around in a snit until the post office started delivering checks from insurance companies. And both of them were no help to the widow when it came to sorting out what personal property in the form of farming equipment was their father's and what was theirs.


So the wife, helped by a neighbor, has spent an inordinate amount of time in my office and on my phone seeking guidance on all of this.


The moral to this story is if neighbors, friends or family start asking about how to interpret their legal documents when someone is either ill or passes away, get them professional help. A lawyer might need between 30 minutes to an hour to read all the relevant documents and would probably set aside an hour to meet with the one needing the explanation. That would create a charge of about two hours of the lawyer's hourly rate. That can always be checked in the beginning with the one in need sets up their meeting.


Hope this helps.


Randy


PS: This is not a great secret. I lost my wife five and a half years ago after a four month battle with cancer. I lost my son four and a half years ago (366 days after my wife died) when he fell in a hiking accident in China. Needless to say I was moving in slow motion for several years. Before all that happened I had an excellent paralegal named Evan Roe who used to handle the editing and graphics on the posts. Evan finally moved on to greener pastures and is thriving in Philadelphia. I had the website updated to new software but I didn't see the one flaw in that move. I no longer could look at Evan's work to reuse all his wonderful coding for the pictures, links and highlights. I'm getting re-energized for this and plan to figure it out. Hopefully soon you'll see some of the benefits of the new style. -- R.

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