The following story is based on an actual series of events with some names and circumstances fictionalised and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional. Hope we are able to learn a thing or two about unfulfilled wishes, and how to protect ourselves.
She must find it, and fast! It’s a race against time for Jane as for the umpteenth time she is rummaging through her best friend, Esther’s apartment for the latter’s 20-year-old Will.
It was surreal like playing out a heart-pounding scene from a movie – a now or never or the protagonist would lose out to greedy adversaries.
The adversaries in this instance are the estranged siblings of Esther who are starting court proceedings to claim her estate after she died intestate (without a Will).
“They can’t. They can’t…” Jane mumbled as she frantically searched for that elusive Will. “It’s not what Esther would want…”
Tears rolled down her cheek as she slumped among the mountain of documents, feeling helpless. This was the last ditch effort in keeping alive Esther’s wish for continued acts of compassion for the unfortunate and underprivileged even after her death.
Prior to this and in desperation, she had even gone to banks where she knew Esther had dealings with to enquire whether Esther had safe deposit box accounts. In hope against hope, she had prayed that by explaining the special circumstances, she would get help to check whether Esther’s Will was there. All she got were sympathetic ears and the same standard response that without a Grant of Representation from the courts, the banks could not allow the opening of the safe deposit boxes.
“I have failed you Esther,” she sobbed. For the longest time that Jane had known Esther, she stood tall for her big heart and generosity, something that was nurtured from young by her late parents. They had inculcated in her that being able to give unconditionally to help the less fortunate without any expectation of anything in return is one of the highest blessings.
She learned from the example of her parents unlike her siblings. She saw how both her parents continued to give to charitable causes after death through how the instructions they set in their Wills. She emulated them when she later prepared her own Will and apportioned her assets, including those that she inherited from her parents, to certain selected charities.
But it was a recent benevolent wish to do much more for charities with her accumulated wealth that triggered a series of events that eventually led to the non-fulfilment of her lifelong passion and her wealth landing in wrong hands.
She had wanted to re-write her Will that was drafted and finalised 20 years back to include more charitable organisations she had come into contact with through her volunteer work. She also wanted to seek advice on how she could give to charities over extended period of time after her death, just like the recent publicised case of a woman who, year after year after her death, still donated to orphanages through clever estate planning.
However, as she started the process of consultation with a professional estate planner, she was dealt a cruel blow. A diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. It shocked her. That sudden knowledge took a toll on her. Her health deteriorated and just too soon as the cancer spread, she passed on.
Being a benefactor to many charities in her life, many representatives of charitable organisations turned up at her funeral to pay their last respects and shared eulogies of Esther’s philanthropy and selfless service.
Her long-estranged siblings did not hide their ill will for her being the sole inheritor of their parents’ estate and their renewed intention to claim back what they felt was rightfully theirs.
Her brother rudely proclaimed after the eulogy by the last speaker that charitable organisations can dream on in thinking they can get any money from Esther’s estate as it belonged to the siblings. They sneered at Jane who told them that Esther had intended to leave all her material wealth to charitable organisations.
Jane could not stomach that and defiantly told the siblings that under the circumstances, Esther’s Will 20 years ago was still valid.
With that, Jane had thrown down the gauntlet. She had to find the Will before the siblings secure a Grant of Representation for Esther’s estate to be distributed in accordance with the law for intestacy.
In the end, without the actual Will to show, Jane lost in her bid for get Esther’s unfulfilled wishes to materialise.
It is not uncommon for many to consider it task accomplished having written a Will. Without safe keeping for easy retrieval upon death, all efforts in putting down one’s wishes in the Will comes to nothing.
It isn’t over until the important Last Will and Testament is in safe custody! Unfulfilled wishes like that of Esther’s just can’t be undone.
About Rockwills International Group
Rockwills International Group, now in its 27th year, pioneered professional will writing in 1995 and has since evolved into the leading estate planning specialist in the country. It is today the largest provider of solutions and support services in the areas of trusts, succession, management and distribution of wealth. It has shareholders’ funds exceeding RM50 million. It has done over 280,000 wills and 15,000 trusts and hold more than RM25 billion in assets under trust.