Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Ernie Banks' will is being contested by his family after they found out that everything in his estate is being left to his caretaker of 10 years, Regina Rice.
The minute I read stories like this, I immediately shudder. My personal experience with things like this is long and storied, but grew ever closer when my dad died in October. It's one thing to sit back and play backseat judge when you read about the soap opera that was Casey Kasem's family's nightmare (totally Team Kids, there). Or discuss the newly-started battle between Robin Williams' wife and his children (again, Team Kids).
But it's entirely another when you watch a parent deal with a crazy woman who cuts them off from their father and cut them out of his will. Or a sibling who seemingly takes control of how the whole estate will be divvied up. Yet, it's still not *you.*
I've the good fortune that my mother is still alive. So,when my father died in October, I was able to help her make arrangements and figure out some of the various pieces of paperwork she has had to wade through, but ultimately, there was no will to contest -- she's still the living survivor; there's nothing for me and my sister to fight about.
But, I worry. My sister and I haven't always -- well, we aren't close, and we can tend to get in a tizzy at the drop of the hat. The last thing I ever want to deal with in a moment of high grief is deep-seated brawling.
It's not money that is the root of all evil, it's the *love* of money that is. I get it -- fear of economic insecurity drives us to do crazy shit. And when I read stories like this, I do wonder about the reality of the situation. You know -- the third side of the story: their side, her side, and the truth.
95% of the time, I believe someone's estate should go to their children or exactly what they outline in their will. However, I think it's always wise to consider what condition they were in when they wrote the will. If they want to give all of their money to a strip club, fine. But, it has to be that they were lucid and with it when they made the decision. They weren't falling apart in sickness, losing their mind in dementia, or weakened and coerced by someone they trusted.
Conversely, I also am bothered by the estranged and distant children who don't want to have anything to do with parents or being a part of their lives as they succumb to the ravages of old age (and eventually death), but really seem to have an interest in making sure they get their fair share of whatever wealth and equity their parent has accumulated over the years. That equally enrages me.
So, do we have a situation like my Grandpa on our hands? Or do we have children who see their meal ticket and want to make sure they get their hands on a piece of a pie they had absolutely no interest in being a part of before now?
At the end of the day, I guess it doesn't matter. I have to keep living and showing up and doing my thing. And, probably should write my own Last Will and Testament while I still have some good brain cells myself.
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