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    Cousin Vinny and Wills

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    Over the last few weeks we’ve been posting about wills, probate, the disinheriting of family members late in a testators life.This is something that’s been described as a nationwide epidemic and the source of more and more probate contests and straight out litigation. Our posts are filled with examples of family members finding out – far too late to do anything – that their father, mother, uncle, grandmother has left some or all of their estate to a caregiver.

    my-cousin-vinny3This happens, and it’s happening everyday, everywhere. In a way, it makes perfect sense, people who are ailing with any illness tend to bond with the people who take care of them. It’s human nature. It’s also human nature for the family members to feel ‘jilted’ and be upset and challenge.

    We, of course, see both sides of this … often. We’ve held several workshops with the good people who run and work in hospices over the last few months and while doing so it’s occurred to us that caregivers are frequently put in what can best be described as awkward situations on a relatively consistent basis.

    They bond with patients, the patients want to do something nice for them, the last thing they have is their estate, they want the caregiver to share in it.

    Again, all natural emotions and understandable.

    We would be remiss, however, by not explaining to caregivers (and charities and foundations and colleges and …) that being told that someone wants to leave you something in their will/trust is very, very different from helping to facilitate that gift.

    Related Topic:  Is An Unnotarized Will Valid In Georgia?

    So, in a word: Don’t.

    Don’t say “Wonderful, I’ll drive you to your lawyer’s office.” Don’t go to their lawyer’s office with them. Don’t arrange for their lawyer to come to their house or facility and ‘help out’ while paperwork is being compiled. Don’t explain to any attorney, anywhere, what your friend/patient wants, never mind how best to do it.

    Above all don’t suggest ‘a great attorney I know who does estate work’ and, above, above all, don’t suggest “My cousin Vinny, he does a lot of closings, but I’m sure he can handle this.”

    The keyword here is: Don’t. Don’t be involved in any way. That  goes a long way toward not being involved in contentious, stressful litigation.

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