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Higgins Capital Management, Inc.

Stories From The Inheritance Files

The Queen's Will was apparently changed recently and is now causing heartburn among some Royals.

Proof that it happens in all families.

We are more than 2-years into settling the estate of a widow.

Years ago her husband passed away. Suddenly one of  distant relatives appeared and insisted that she had rights to estate assets.

It surprised everyone and was quickly put to rest. But it came at the worst time of grieving, was a distraction to honoring the deceased. It also forced attention away from a celebration of life. His grieving spouse and children had to deal with issues that could have waited till a more appropriate time. 

Expect the unexpected when family members pass away and money is involved.

The silver-lining was everyone learned that updated legal documents, assembled and kept in a known location was very important to the larger picture and peace of mind.

Settling an estate is not simply about the legalities. The complexities are about family relationships. 

Most of us value our family ties and want to keep those intact and healthy.

This means that those members who receive the largest parts of the estate should take the time to keep appropriate family members prudently appraised of how settling the estate is proceeding.

This is not legal advice. This is family relationship experience.

Of course you can act with impunity and stick to the legalities. But we’ve learned that the best policy is measured communication that is well documented  with diary-like entries: names, dates, times, location, means of communication and the issues covered.

So we mention The Queen because even the best laid plans leave someone disappointed.

It's the human condition.

Cut to the present.

Our widow passed in early 2020. All estate planning documents were up to date. Settling the estate should have been smooth.

Think again.

In the last few years of her life our widow's son had predeceased her. She wanted to take care of a couple of his grown children who she had helped to raise. These children were our widow's grandchildren.

Our widow owned two pieces of real estate. One was her home. The other was another house that she rented to one of these grandchildren. 

Time passed and our widow moved into an assisted care facility. As is common, she sold her home to help meet her new, higher expenses.

The rental house continued to be occupied by her grandchild.

When our widow passed away, the grandchild in the rental house stopped paying rent.

The delinquent-renter-grandchild refused to vacate the property and was now in arrears 19-months rent without the ability to repay past due rent. 

The rental house he occupied had to be sold in order to settle the estate. But the property couldn't be sold because he wouldn't vacate.

The family members who are beneficiaries have all been kept appraised of this saga. They are relieved because they think closure is near.

Think again.

The delinquent-renter-grandchild contested the will.

He didn’t understand the math as it relates to an estate’s contingent beneficiaries.

More legal fees and more time passed with the estate unsettled.

I take the time to help him understand the math and he eventually makes peace with the family. The family helps him to relocate.

The estate is settled and the family moves forward with renewed appreciation for each other.

My advice on attention to detail and maintaining cordial family relationships has helped to solve the issues and misunderstandings. Extensive documentation by the executor has been crucial. Prudently keeping the appropriate family members in the loop has smoothed ruffled feathers.

It’s not confusing; people want dignity and respect.

I’ve gained more experience in the complexities of family relationships. I’m better equipped to help my family, friends and clients.

The information contained in this Higgins Capital communication is provided for information purposes and is not a solicitation or offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments in any jurisdiction. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

#fiduciary #financialadvisor #higginscapital #income #retirement #wealthmanager

Ray Higgins
San Diego