Dadís death was not surprise or shock; it was expected. He was 83 years old and suffered from severe breathing problems, COPD, and dementia. With a three gun salute, the passing of the flag, bosomy hugs from Aunt Ethel, baked beans and potato salad; damp eyes ended the solemn event of his funeral. Now the business of settling the estate had begun.
Dad survived the 1930ís Great Depression, and because of this harsh experience, he had some old school ideas. He never trusted lawyers; therefore, he left no legitimate will. He never owned a credit card and paid everything with cash, even his 1990s $250,000 estate. He was a hoarder, as in the best program of Hoarders television; he couldnít discard anything. His five acres abounded with barns and storage sheds that were filled with scrap metals, tires, tools, and everything. His home enclosed so much junk that it was stacked to the ceiling. It was like a landfill. Needless to say, the settling of this estate was a mountain of a mess.
The four adult surviving siblingís first problem was to elect a personal representative to stand for the familyís legal matters, arrange the cleaning of the property, and settle financial matters. Because Darren, the youngest, lived on the estate close to the town and lawyers, he was unanimously chosen to assume this role. (The others lived long distances away.) The family discussed Darrenís duties in administration, duties in the clean-up, and the goal of settling the estate for over $300,000 within the year.
Why were we shocked to see the slow solution to this situation?! We all needed the money, and Darren was doing nothing. He made no official calls; he never cleaned anything; and he never groomed the yard. Of course there were a few yard sales with enough dumpsters to fill a garbage pit. But, Darrenís irresponsibility in handling the estate was evident by the fact that he wanted to live there Ė rent free. As part of the bargain, he was allowed to stay freely on the estate yet pay the utility bills until its settlement.
Darren wouldnít return our angry calls. He kept no records, ledgers, or lists. He saw no estate officials. Bill, the oldest son, would call and complain but to no avail. Sharon, the only girl, desired to keep the family unified and made all the compromises between the siblings. Ray, the middle child, was undergoing a bitter divorce and couldnít withstand more pressure.
Bill finally assumed all the responsibility for the situation. He made legal calls. He travelled 120 miles round trip many, many times to accomplish goals. It took much time and travel to make this estate saleable. After painting, tiling, and carpeting, the house looked rather presentable. The acreage had been basically cleaned with old tires, scrap metals, and riding machines being removed.
In 2012, five years after Dadís passing, the estate was finally ready to place on the market. Because this situation occurred in the 2007-2008 Recession, the asking price was driven down. They would be fortunate to bring in a profit.
We worried about finding a buyer, and after several inquiries, a bargain hunter purchased it. The selling price, $87,000, which was a loss of $150,000. Because of irresponsibility, feuding, chaos, and omnishambles, the survivors lost their visions of gaining a big inheritance. Dadís fears of another 1930s Depression went to his grave, and all his hoarding was in vain. In the end the survivors netted about $30,000 a person, a nice sum, but not what they expected.
Now both parents were in glory; the family home was gone; only memories remained. Sharonís efforts to keep the family unified succeeded, save for some friction between Darren and Bill.
It can be certain that all families suffer conflict during an estate settlement. Inheritances can cause many problems.
Maybe someday Iíll be happy to receive a temporal inheritance from someone, but Iím most happy to know that my eternal inheritance is from the Lord. As a saved sinner, I received salvation, eternal life, the abundant life, and all his promises. Praise the Lord! Acts 20:32 NIV
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