For years, my husband helped his elderly unmarried aunt with her affairs, as he was her closest living relative. (Several grand-nieces and second- or third-cousins live in other states, but did not visit or regularly correspond with her). She named my husband as her personal representative in her will — but unbeknownst to us, she changed her will every several months, and repeatedly moved her financial accounts from one bank to another. She did not have a large estate; in fact, we often helped her out with cash gifts, but she liked to give the impression that she was very well off. During this time, we learned that a distant relative in another state had managed to prey on her with his hard luck stories — and she responded by sending him thousands of dollars over several years.
The day she died (at age 89), she and my husband were to meet at her latest bank to go over her accounts. Unfortunately, she died four hours before this meeting. That’s when all hell broke loose!
No one came to her funeral except my husband, daughter and me. The family in other states were “too busy”, but all immediately asked about the status of her “enormous” estate. When my husband and I visited her attorney, we learned that she wrote at least 15 wills over the years — and that she divided up her estate (total value of less than $50,000) among numerous distant relatives, including one who is presumed dead. Further, she apparently made a number of “loans” to some of these folks — or at least that’s what her notes said, but no signed agreements were found.
My husband spent nearly three years trying to settle this estate – complicated by accusations from several distant relatives that he was hiding assets because “everyone knew that she was rich.” He tried to reclaim these so-called “loans”. And all this time, the attorney fees just kept adding up. Bottom line: He finally resigned as personal representative as his health was being negatively affected by all the stress…..the estate still is not settled…..at last account, it’s value is less than $30,000….and family members are in full battle mode suing each other! The only one who’s happy is the relative who conned her out of nearly $15,000 in “gifts” while she was still alive. So sad.