When there’s a “Will” there’s a way… So my great uncle died…

Death is not something most people would want to deal with on a regular basis. And by most people, I mean everyone with the exception of the occasional sociopath and/or actor playing one. I, for one, have never been to a funeral, and haven’t known a lot of people who have died. In fact, no one I’ve known closely has died yet (knock on wood.) When it does happen I’m not sure how I’ll cope. Regardless, one thing I’m not enthused about is the idea of how death, from a legal perspective, also means inheritance, and the uncomfortable situation of relatives turning against each other as that money is split up all while you’re trying to morn your loss.

In the case of my family, a few months ago my great uncle passed away. He was in his 90s and up until his death was a happy and youthful guy. A prominent Rabbi who divorced his wife late in his life in order to follow his heart (with his much younger cantor… oh, the drama) he had lived a long live, escaping the Holocaust and losing his first wife and child in the genocide, and then moving on and living a life dedicated to openness and interfaith connections. Needless to say he was a very interesting guy, and it was sad to hear that he had passed.

He also had a condo in a nice area of New York that’s undoubtedly worth a bit of money, and who knows how much additional money in the bank. At some point he revised his will to give all of his money to his “foundation” (that hasn’t been set up yet) and gave full power over his estate to another rabbi he knew in NY. The rabbi then went on to do something a bit shady… quickly asking my mom, her sisters, and the others who would likely receive some of the inheritance, to sign an agreement saying that they give over all the rights to this guy to decide what to do with the money, and that they should sign right away or risk not being able to receive anything (although it was clear they probably wouldn’t receive anything if they signed.) My mom and her sisters signed, but a relative in Israel refused and the latest word is that they received a note that they would receive $10k if they will sign. So now my mom is pissed about the whole situation and wondering if she’s getting screwed over.

While she’s likely getting screwed over, the whole situations just irks me. This guy DIED and you barely made time to see him during his life, why do you deserve any of that money? What also irks me is that the one who has power over the estate may be using the money for his own gains… or he might be using it for the charities he promised to support. We don’t know.

Have you had any awkward inheritance stories to share?

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