A Cautionary Tale For Those Lovingly and Successfully Co-habitating...

Posted by fiesty76 @fiesty76, Dec 16, 2020

Who Think They’ve Protected Themselves, Each Other and Their Beneficiaries:

A close older friend wrote asking my opinion on whether or not she and her partner should marry after 7 happy years of living together. Both had been previously married; both have adult children and each have individual investments and property. She was a bit surprised at his very recent proposal because they had discussed marriage at other times and had decided against it. As I and many often do before making major decisions, she’d compiled her private list of pros and cons and said she just couldn’t decide. Of course, only she can make her decision and I assured her that I have every confidence that she will make the one best for her.

However, because of a few other things she shared, I wrote the following response to her and thought it might in some way, perhaps, give others in a similar situation some additional things to consider.

My best friend of over 30 yrs passed away in June. When her beloved moved into her home, he kept his out-of-state residence and continued to lease it.

Although they chose not to marry, they were wise in making co-habitating decisions from the outset. They set up a joint bank account and also kept separate, certain individual accounts, investments and properties. They created wills and estate plans which clearly spelled out their wishes for funerals, distributions, and inheritances and became a heart warming model of compatibility and mutual respect and generosity to others during their over 20 yrs of co-habitation. He has 5 supportive, loving children; she had one daughter who created pure hell and bedlam during her mom’s final long illness and afterwards.

One huge mistake they made was in Not sending notarized, certified copies of their wills and estate plans to the children appointed executors. Instead of safely storing those along with other very important legal, investment, deed documents, receipts, and expenditure records in a bank deposit box, they stored those along with cash, expensive jewelry and a large coin collection in their home safe which my friend’s only daughter accessed and removed.

She not only destroyed her mom’s most current will (the atty who drew the wills had died years before and any set he would have had was lost) but she additionally disrespected & defied her mom’s final wishes about burial, instead, cremating her mom and taking the ashes with her after a horrendously destructive 5 month reign of disruption, needless pain and anguish to both my friend, her guy, and the medical team, investment groups, banks, and others as she directed the lives of all concerned while in her mom’s house.

She used a much earlier will, made before my friend and partner had even met, for probate. Upon consultations with an atty., the effort to establish common law in our state will be lengthy, expensive and her partner is deciding that at his advanced age, not worth the stress, delays and open war it would create once the daughter, now back in Denver, learned of any legal pursuit.

The latter will spelled out clearly that the partner could live as long as he wished in my friend’s current home at will and at the time he chose to leave or at his death, that residence would revert to the daughter. It also provided specific investments be inherited by the daughter’s two children along with other charitable provisions. Had they created joint ownership of that residence and safeguarded what they had mutually agreed to, listed each other as primary beneficiaries on some investments and life ins. policies, etc., subsequent events would have been quite different.

Immediately following my friend’s death, her daughter presented the partner with a very complex house lease agreement with many strings attached. Still overcome and exhausted with grief, he signed the lease agreement.

It was a surprise for me to discover in learning more about filing for Common Law Marriage that in our state of Texas, a co-habitating couple can sign a legal affidavit at the courthouse which can be upheld with the same legality as a marriage certificate. Who would think to explore this or even to carry it out when thinking they’ve protected themselves and one another for the future? Granted my friends were both naive in many matters both financial and medical; however, so much resulting distress and grief could have been avoided if only……

I share this to impress on others who are co-habitating happily and thinking that they have covered the bases for future inheritances, partner protections and distributions, etc. to be sure to safeguard your individual and joint holdings legally and with proof.

My hope is that if one other couple or family can benefit from this sharing, it will eliminate future pain. Certainly not a happy holiday topic but one worth considering.

However you choose to spend the holidays, I wish you safety, peace, health and good will.

@fiesty76 Good topic and information. Thanks for sharing.

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@fiesty76 I read your post when you first sent it in, and have had several days now to mull it over.

The grief that both you and your best friend's partner have been through, assisting her and being there for her as she declined, has been barbed by some callous actions from her family member. That makes it very difficult to lovingly recall her relationship, doesn't it? It hurts to realize how things could have been different for them "if only", and now it is too late.

Your friend's partner may want to contact the county bar association where the lawyer practiced, who drew up their wills, and find out where the files went to. It is worth a shot to pursue this. They may be scanned and saved in someone's office, perhaps a partner he had in practice?

The hurt and pain you carry for her, her partner, and how it all turned out, is evident in your words. Wishing you comfort in these days.
Ginger

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@gingerw, Thank you sincerely for your comforting response and for the suggestion for my friend to contact the local bar association. We hadn't thought of that and it is a very good one which I'll mention to him.

However, at this point, he is reaching a decision to stay here, rather than considering a move back to his home in Denver. This has become home after 20+ years and he's thinking that he'll purchase a duplex. His many friends are happy about that and also that he's deciding any legal action would only trigger more distress.

Far longer than expected (for those who know me best,vbg, I used patience, tact, and all of my empathetic listening skills with the friend's daughter who I'd realized was seriously emtionally ill. However, as my mom used to say: "Eventually the worm turns" and in the last few months of my friend's declining health, it did with her. My sincerest, longest held best wish for the daughter and for the sake of her two daughters is that she will receive the medical help she needs.

While having difficulty and still struggling with the intense anger I feel toward the daughter for the grief she's caused, more and more often, I'm remembering the fun, laughter and stellar friendship my friend and I shared. Once my friend has severed all ties to the disruptive daughter, he will be able to better start anew and those who care about him take great comfort in that.

Ginger, you were very kind to respond and I am grateful for this place in which to share.

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I, as have many, have learned to trust no friend, acquaintance, family member. It is cruel what people do legally to others. Thing is oft times those who prosper in this manner still are not happy.
I did not read all of the post or comments as my ire was on the rise. I will not type my venomous words as this allows those inflicting the harm to still be in control and these are minutes I can never get back thus I am giving them my power over my thoughts.
Not directed at those posting-just in case another member may take anything personally. Only saying, " I can empathize".

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@parus it is sad that you have not found one person in your life you feel you can trust. Granted I have to agree with your premise, there is always a need to be cautious. But I do have one person in my life I have been friends with since kindergarten. That is 60+ years we have racked up together. When my husband was unable to go with me to Mayo she was there with me, helping me navigate all my appointments. We have celebrated many milestones over the years as well as some sad times. We are a phone call away from each other. She even crocheted mittens for my kindergarten class. I know, maybe I am the exception, if so I am very lucky.

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@suzanne2 yes, you are very lucky.

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@parus

I, as have many, have learned to trust no friend, acquaintance, family member. It is cruel what people do legally to others. Thing is oft times those who prosper in this manner still are not happy.
I did not read all of the post or comments as my ire was on the rise. I will not type my venomous words as this allows those inflicting the harm to still be in control and these are minutes I can never get back thus I am giving them my power over my thoughts.
Not directed at those posting-just in case another member may take anything personally. Only saying, " I can empathize".

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@parus, As you wrote, betrayals by those we trusted most can be some of the hardest and longest hurts to heal. I so agree that very unhappy people are those who create intended hurt for others and that is one of the saddest outcomes because they rarely, if ever, seem to recognize, acknowlege or care about the harm they've done. However, I really admire what you add about giving the hurtful one our power. I am struggling with this at the moment and know what you say is true. Thank you for your response.

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@suzanne2

@parus it is sad that you have not found one person in your life you feel you can trust. Granted I have to agree with your premise, there is always a need to be cautious. But I do have one person in my life I have been friends with since kindergarten. That is 60+ years we have racked up together. When my husband was unable to go with me to Mayo she was there with me, helping me navigate all my appointments. We have celebrated many milestones over the years as well as some sad times. We are a phone call away from each other. She even crocheted mittens for my kindergarten class. I know, maybe I am the exception, if so I am very lucky.

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@suzanne2, I wrote an earlier response but think I failed to hit "reply". Like you, I have been blessed with truly and wholly trusted friends throughout my life and know the value they have added, especially in those times of greatest need.

I agree with your words of caution and would wish that everyone had someone in whom they knew "regardless of what was happening" they could rely upon. My mom was a stellar schoolteacher and once told me as I was starting my teaching career that as long as a child/ person has just one other who believes in, encourages and has their back, any individual has a great chance for future success and happiness. A true friend is a gift indeed. Thank you for your post.

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