So we were helping Mom’s husband clean out the mess in his house. When we were in the detached garage, we found a safe inside of it. Inside of it was $4,000 in cash, the phone number to her stockbroker, and a will that was written in 2006. That will dictated that my mother’s assets be split between the three of Mom and Dad’s children. The three of us have wills that were written earlier, but they were all from before Dad passed away.

She married her husband in 2021. Since getting married, my mother and her husband have maintained separate bank accounts at the insistence of the husband’s daughter, who always accused my mother of being a gold digger, but was also collecting $4,000 a month in support payments from her father. Those payments are scheduled to continue until the daughter turns 25 years old. (She is 23 now)

According to my brother’s estate attorney, the will from 2006 is the controlling one, but since they were married after that will was written, her husband (we will call him John) is entitled to a third of the assets, then the remainder will be split according to the will. John, however has dementia and isn’t in good health. That means that John’s daughter Susan will get whatever money he gets from my Mother’s estate as soon as he passes.

This is important, because the stockbroker tells us that he closed Mom’s account back in June, at her request. The money was sent to a bank by wire transfer, and that is where the trail grows cold. The balance that was transferred was over $150,000. That amount represents the remainder of my father’s retirement savings.

This bothers us, because Susan was absolutely ugly to my Mother. She opposed the wedding, and when she and her father went out to dinner, Susan would never let my mother go with them. Letting this woman that none of us know inherit the money that my Mom and Dad spend a lifetime putting away isn’t sitting right with us. We have discussed it- all three of us siblings have grandchildren, and we want to fight for that money and use it to set up a trust for Mom and Dad’s great-grandchildren, our grandkids.

This would possibly entail a protracted and expensive legal battle. Lawyers would likely eat up half of the money that is there. So instead, we are going to request that the state place Mom’s estate in probate, and then offer to settle it by giving John half of the estate, with the remaining half being used to setup a trust for the benefit of Mom’s great-grandchildren.

If Mom intended things to go any other way, then why didn’t she write a new will? If the 2006 will was no longer her wishes because of her wedding, then why didn’t she rewrite it? Why keep it in the safe?

Still a mess, and getting messier every day.

Categories: Uncategorized


anonymous coward · December 23, 2023 at 6:40 am

>accused my mother of being a gold digger, but was also collecting $4,000 a month in support payments from her father.


Dirty Dingus McGee · December 23, 2023 at 7:41 am

The plot thickens. Broker should be able to at least give you the name of the bank the money was wired to.

Probate sucks. Lawyers make out great, as designed. I guess it depends on how bad you want to keep a greedy person from cashing in as to what you do next.

Merry Christmas?

It's just Boris · December 23, 2023 at 7:54 am

I’m confused.

If you don’t go to probate, it sounds as though John, and this Susan, get 1/3 of the assets.

The solution you outline offering to the probate court results in 1/2 of the assets going to John and Susan.

If the objective is to keep as much out of Susan’s hands as possible, isn’t following the will the better course? If you and your siblings agree, after the will is executed you could pool your 2/9 each to form the grandchildren’s trust.

    Divemedic · December 23, 2023 at 8:48 pm

    If we do nothing, they will get all of it.

      It's just Boris · December 23, 2023 at 9:33 pm

      Above, you write “That will [written in 2006] dictated that my mother’s assets be split between the three of Mom and Dad’s children.” … “the will from 2006 is the controlling one, but since they were married after that will was written, her husband (we will call him John) is entitled to a third of the assets, then the remainder will be split according to the will.”

      That sounds like you and your two siblings will each receive 1/3 of 2/3 of the estate, or in aggregate 2/3 of the estate, not nothing.

      Not trying to be a pain here, just not understanding how this would not be better than getting 1/2 in aggregate.

        Divemedic · December 24, 2023 at 9:05 am

        Because all he has to do is go to the bank with his identification, their marriage license, and her death certificate, and the bank will cut him a check.

        However, the law says that, since she left a pre-marital will that hasn’t been superseded by a post-marital will, he only gets 1/3 of the estate. The problem is that enforcing that requires that someone take the issue to court. That costs money. By the time it all gets litigated, we would wind up with 2/3 of the money minus our costs in hiring a lawyer, which will be significantly less than we would get by threatening a lawsuit and settling for a 50/50 split. In cases like these, the lawyers get more than any single other person does.

EN2 SS · December 23, 2023 at 9:30 am

Wait a second, if the husband is entitled to one third of Moms estate, why offer him half? And to my feeble mind, it’s obvious that the husbands daughter already has the $150,000.

    Divemedic · December 23, 2023 at 8:48 pm

    Because they will get it all if we simply do nothing.

McChuck · December 23, 2023 at 9:54 am

Your plan doesn’t make sense. Current husband is entitled to 30%. You state you don’t want current husband’s daughter to get her hands on things, but then are willing to offer half? Doesn’t make sense.

Stick with the will, get a decent (not exorbitant) lawyer for probate court. You and your sibs will get 70%. You immediately place the proceeds into trusts for your grandkids. Use the same lawyer for all of it, and you might get a discount.

    Divemedic · December 23, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Because current husband will get it all if we do nothing. If both sides fight it out, we will get 70% of what is left after the lawyers take their cut, which means $150k- lawyer 40%, times 70%. That leaves 42% of what we started with. Or we can offer to settle for 50%.

Exile1981 · December 23, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Deaths are always messy. My brother in law died without a will at age 30. His dad had run off with one of his students (college prof) when he was 3 months old. When the BIL died sans will, half went to his mom and half went to his dad he had no memory of and no contact with since he ran off.

Mr Keebasa · December 23, 2023 at 2:27 pm

Friend’s father died. Had remarried at a late age to a woman who when their respective spouses had been alive, had been friends They were married 5/6 yrs before he passed. Both were independently considerably well off. Him especially so as he was the only child of a widow who had married a childless very wealthy man. My friend has 3 brothers, the woman had 3 daughters. They couple had agreed that their respective wealth would go to their own families. When he died, the daughters hired a grubby lawyer and convinced their mom she deserved half the wealth as she wasn’t always treated that great even though my friends father had taken her out of a nursing home to care for her. The funeral was ugly. The woman died about 3 yrs. later and the daughters all wound up very wealthy.

Elrod · December 24, 2023 at 8:36 am

This story, and a great many like it, should be one hell of an incentive to review one’s desires and intentions and create and maintain an up-to-date will or estate trust.

Pro Tip: After one does creat that will or trust, take some time and also create a “Read Me First” document. A will or trust is designed to take care of assets – money, real estate, vehicles, etc. – but I’ve seen cases where one spouse dies and the other doesn’t know where the can opener is kept. That’s a bit facetious, but where keys to what are kept, what bills come in and need to be paid by when, who to call for plumbing repairs, bulk trash pickup, who to donate stuff like clothing and books to, etc., etc., etc. and all of life’s other administrivia, very often falls through the cracks and causes more anguish and frustration for the survivors….and raises expenses, often dramatically, to resolve. I’ve seen very valuable antiques donated to Goodwill – or worse, chucked in a dumpster – because Old Aunt Sally never told anyone it was a genuine 250-year-old handmade Ethan Allen bureau or a candlestick from Catherine the Great’s reign and the family had no idea…or care enough to consider it. Decades ago, a friend staying in the old family home owned by the deceased couldn’t sleep one night, picked a book off the living room bookshelves to read and discovered $10 and $20 bills between some of the pages. After going through every book in the house they found over $10K – it was the deceased’s way of – she thought – safely keeping a “mad money emergency stash” and she never told anyone. Those books were only days away from being boxed and donated.

Explanation – Area Ocho · December 24, 2023 at 9:18 am

[…] thought the process was obvious, but I guess I didn’t explain it well. Let me try from the other […]

Comments are closed.