Happy Wednesday! This week we're talking about expecting the unexpected. I've written many times about the importance of having a Last Will and Testament. This becomes even more important when you have blended family situations, e.g. second marriages, step-children, etc.
A case was recently brought to my attention about a Barbadian family living Central Square, Cambridge
. The day before Thanksgiving, an attorney appointed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts informed Marcelle Harrison that she may not be inheriting the home she has lived in for almost forty years. Harrison's stepfather, Noel Aimes, and her mother, Richlene Aimes, were immigrants from Barbados. Harrison's mother passed away first, leaving the family home to her husband, Noel Aimes. Aimes, who never learned how to read or write, passed away subsequent to his wife and never executed a Last Will and Testament. Now, the property is subject to an international family feud.
Since Ms. Harrison is a stepchild of Noel Aimes, Aimes' blood relatives in Barbados, have a claim to the property over Harrison. Harrison doesn't even know these family members and her stepfather had little to no contact with the rest of his family in Barbados except for one sister who passed away in 2001. Aimes raised Harrison as his own child and she took care of her stepfather and his debilitating diabetes until he passed away. However, the law does not take any of that into consideration. Massachusetts intestacy laws alone dictate how property is divided if a person dies without a will.
Currently living in the home is Harrison, her husband, daughter, three granddaughters and a nephew. The home was purchased in 1980 for $23,000 and is now estimated to be worth over $1M. Nobody in Harrison's working-class family has the means to move elsewhere. All of this because her family didn't know the importance of will. This is a tragic story that is unfortunately more common than you think.
If you want to be the one who decides where your property goes upon your death, it's important to have a proper estate plan in place. This is especially important in blended family situations. Contact us today so you leave your legacy on your terms.