Recently I got to spend time with my dear friend, Tori, and her mother.
I have been fortunate to witness a few of their family gatherings and celebrations which often took place at the home of Tori’s aunt, Aunt Susie. They included a one-of-a-kind jello salad and a plethora of casserole dishes – any kind that called for crushed potato chips on top.
~ ~ ~ Tori and her mom, 2017 ~ ~ ~
A year ago, I learned of Aunt Susie’s sudden passing and how profoundly she would be missed.
It wasn’t until my most recent visit with Tori and her mother that I learned of the ‘misfortunes’ that took place after her death.
Aunt Susie lived in a beautiful home that her father, Tori’s grandfather, had built. It was a unique home in style and architecture but made even more exquisite by it’s proximity to the pacific ocean. The home sat on a hill on 5th street…5 blocks from the Pacific Ocean. You could see the stunning view from the front yard.
The house was sold after Aunt Susie’s death. I hurt for the family’s loss of this treasure.
What I learned recently made my heart sink even more. (No matter how many of these stories I hear, they still break my heart. I am not sure I’ll ever be numb to the pain of missed pieces.)
Selling the house was not what Aunt Susie wanted. It was not her wish.
Aunt Susie had been married to her second husband for twenty years. She had one adult son and he had two adult children from a previous marriage.
Her husband had predeceased her years earlier. And when she died, the Wills they had drafted while they were married were the most current.
Tori and her mom knew Aunt Susie’s intentions (her wishes) were for her son to keep the home. It was communicated numerous times. They knew she wanted the home to stay in “her family.”
However, when her husband was living and presented “estate planning documents” for her to sign, she signed. She trusted her husband knew her wishes for the home and they’d be followed. Yet, as it turns out, what she signed provided that the house proceeds would be divided into thirds. Her son, whom she intended to be the sole heir, now had to split the proceeds of his mother’s home with his two step siblings. He would only receive one-third.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Aunt Susie also owned a triplex in the same beach community. Which, you guessed it, also had to be split in thirds.
This was not what Aunt Susie intended, wanted or wished.
Tori’s mom said when the attorney read the Will, their heads dropped. She added, “Aunt Susie would be heartbroken to know this happened this way.”
~ ~ ~
How can you ensure your wishes are followed?
Not only is it important to communicate your wishes, it’s also important to make sure they are documented properly.
Make your wishes known…start today!*
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