Every Parent’s False Assumption – Margo’s Story

Margo had three sons. Tom and Terry were twins from her first marriage and Stevie from her second. Stevie dropped out of school to play guitar. He never really got a job to support himself. Margo let Stevie live at home with her until she died. Her will named all three sons as executors and split her estate equally among them.

Margo, however, changed her will at Stevie’s request after she started cancer treatments. Margo told her lawyer that Stevie should be the executor. He could buy her house after she was gone and not have to move. After Margo died, only her house and a sizable income tax bill were left.

Margo’s Assumption

Margo assumed the kids would cooperate. “My sons will work things out,” she told her lawyer. Margo also had given a cancer charity a gift of $25,000 under her new will.

Unfortunately, Margo’s children did not see things the way their mother had. They each went to lawyers after her passing. Stevie claimed his mother owed him the house for all the repairs he did over the past 10 years. He refused to sell the house as executor.

Why The Executor Was Sued

The twins sued Stevie as executor. They also claimed the mother’s will was invalid. They wanted her previous will to be declared her last will. They said their mother could not have known what she was doing.

The twins also sued the lawyer who prepared the mother’s new will. They said their mother was suffering from cancer. She was pressured by Stevie to favour him. She could not have known what she was doing. Their mother, they claimed, had not received proper legal advice.

Since Stevie did not have a job, how could he buy the house from the estate?

The twins also sued Stevie, demanding he pay them back rent that he never paid their mother. They also claimed all their legal fees.

That’s not all.

The charity hired a lawyer and wanted the $25,000 donation under the last will. The estate was frozen while the lawyers argued the law. All the brothers had their legal costs paid from Margo’s money. The charity got half of the donation to settle out of court. Margo’s house was sold to pay everyone.

The Lesson

Do not assume everyone will see eye-to-eye once you are gone.

You must understand the new reality; people can contest your last wishes.

You must be prepared to protect yourself and your money.

Do you think you know what you are doing when it comes to estate planning?

You can learn how to avoid the biggest estate planning mistakes in Breakthrough Estate Planning: Finding All the Answers You’ll Ever Need.