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rsanders9640

Named in Will but No Longer a Grandchild

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My former step grandfather recently passed away (my father and step-mom had divorced about 3 years ago). I learned that I was specifically named in my former step grandfather's will about 6 years ago as a "grandchild" along with the biological grandchildren to each receive an equal amount of money. There were no other specific terms or conditions except that if a grandchild predeceased then their share would lapse.

 

I was contacted by the executor, who stated that the term "grandchild" is ambiguous in the will, and that I am not necessarily entitled to my share any longer, and that he's not sure how a court would rule in this situation, but offered 50% of the share designated to me in the will as a compromise. Should I accept this offer? Is there any legal precedent for a situation like this? Thanks!

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Have you seen the will?

 

If not, get a copy from the courthouse ASAP before you make any decisions and see what it says about you.

 

Treat the estate lawyer as your enemy and verify everything he tells you.

 

Once you have the will, come back here and report what it says if you want further conversation.

 

There probably is case law on that kind of thing but until you have a copy of the will, you're not there yet.

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11 hours ago, rsanders9640 said:

My former step grandfather recently passed away (my father and step-mom had divorced about 3 years ago).

 

So...this person is the father of a woman to whom your father was married.  Right?

 

 

11 hours ago, rsanders9640 said:

I learned that I was specifically named in my former step grandfather's will about 6 years ago as a "grandchild" along with the biological grandchildren to each receive an equal amount of money.

 

What exactly does this mean?  Did you see the will (or a copy)?  Do you currently have a copy?  Please explain what "specifically named . . . as a 'grandchild'" means.  If you have the exact wording of the will, please quote it (with actual names removed or changed).

 

 

11 hours ago, rsanders9640 said:

There were no other specific terms or conditions except that if a grandchild predeceased then their share would lapse.

 

Their share?  Did you mean to say "his or her share"?  Or was your use of a plural pronoun intentional?

 

 

11 hours ago, rsanders9640 said:

I was contacted by the executor, who stated that the term "grandchild" is ambiguous in the will, and that I am not necessarily entitled to my share any longer, and that he's not sure how a court would rule in this situation, but offered 50% of the share designated to me in the will as a compromise. Should I accept this offer?

 

It would be beyond stupid (1) for anyone who hasn't read the will to opine about this and (2) for you to rely on an opinion by an uninformed, anonymous stranger on an internet message board.  Also, how much $$ is at issue, and are you sure this person is actually the executor?  What I mean by the second part of this question is that a person is not actually the executor of an estate until and unless he or she is appointed as such by the probate court.  This is important because, in order for the offered settlement to have any validity, this person must be appointed by the court and the court must approve the settlement.  Alternatively, if the small estate process is being used, all of the other beneficiaries would have to sign off on this.

 

 

11 hours ago, rsanders9640 said:

Is there any legal precedent for a situation like this?

 

I'm sure there is.  However, since we don't know what the will says, your "situation" is anything but clear.

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3 hours ago, pg1067 said:

 

So...this person is the father of a woman to whom your father was married.  Right?

 

 

 

What exactly does this mean?  Did you see the will (or a copy)?  Do you currently have a copy?  Please explain what "specifically named . . . as a 'grandchild'" means.  If you have the exact wording of the will, please quote it (with actual names removed or changed).

 

 

 

Their share?  Did you mean to say "his or her share"?  Or was your use of a plural pronoun intentional?

 

 

 

It would be beyond stupid (1) for anyone who hasn't read the will to opine about this and (2) for you to rely on an opinion by an uninformed, anonymous stranger on an internet message board.  Also, how much $$ is at issue, and are you sure this person is actually the executor?  What I mean by the second part of this question is that a person is not actually the executor of an estate until and unless he or she is appointed as such by the probate court.  This is important because, in order for the offered settlement to have any validity, this person must be appointed by the court and the court must approve the settlement.  Alternatively, if the small estate process is being used, all of the other beneficiaries would have to sign off on this.

 

 

 

I'm sure there is.  However, since we don't know what the will says, your "situation" is anything but clear.

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

Yes, the father of my former step mom; they were married for a decade and divorced about 3 years ago.

 

I am positive regarding executor. And I know this person (one of the sons of the deceased). He's also a lawyer and never liked that I was in the will in the first place, that much was clear. He's advised me he's sending a document or something I need to sign I am guessing, via snail mail, which I have yet to receive and that which will confirm the 50% reduction if I agree to it.

 

Yes, I was able to obtain a copy of the will. This is the exact wording and the only place I am mentioned - "Each of my grandchildren listed below are to receive $40,000.00. In the event that any of my grandchildren have predeceased me, their share shall lapse.
    1. Name
    2. Name
    3. Name
    4. Name (me)"

 

And that's it. The executor is claiming that in the above statement, the term "grandchild" is ambiguous and if taken to court the decision could go either way, which is his logic for only offering 50% as compromise to avoid court I guess?

 

I know not to rely on the opinion of anonymous strangers on a message board. But I wanted to see what someone thought of this regardless. I am not sure what the legal definition "grandchild" means here (google search pages I browsed through mention direct bloodline only but that's obviously not what the testator meant here if I'm included and named along with the others) and if this would still apply to me, even though as of 3 years ago, I technically became a former step-grandchild due to the divorce of my dad and step-mom. I did remain fairly close with the deceased and saw him often, even after the divorce and up until a year ago when he was relocated to another state due to failing health. Not that that matters I suppose, but figured he did have plenty of time to amend the will if he had wanted me out of it.

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Interesting.

 

You are not now and never were this man's grandchild (and "step-grandchild" isn't a term that has any meaning in the eyes of the law).  That he chose to refer to you as such in his will is, in my opinion, neither here nor there.  What is, in my opinion, important, is that you were mentioned by name.  If, for example, the will had said, "Each of my grandchildren is to receive $40,000," you would be entitled to nothing (even if your mother and stepmother were still married) because (as mentioned) you are not and never were a grandchild.

 

In my opinion, because the will specifically names you, you are entitled to the $40k.  That the term "grandchildren" was used doesn't change that, and the executor's assertion that "grandchildren" is ambiguous is both wrong and a red herring.  The only ambiguity exists in identifying a person (you) who isn't a grandchild as such.  However, in my opinion, the important factor is that you are identified by name.  In theory, the executor could try to argue that you should get nothing because you aren't and weren't a grandchild, but the deceased obviously knew the nature of your relationship and named you anyway, so I think a court would conclude that he intended you to have the $$.  I think this is something about which case law probably exists, but I don't know of anything off the top of my head.

 

What you do with this opinion is, of course, up to you.  You can take the offer and get $20k you didn't have before without any fight.  Or you can decline the offer and insist on the full $40k or make a counteroffer.  Maybe the executor will accede to that without a fight or maybe he'll object.  You could, if you are so inclined, seek a consultation from a local probate attorney.  You probably can find someone to give you a free consultation or you may have to pay a few hundred dollars.  Depending on what you are told, you can make a decision how you want to proceed.

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7 minutes ago, pg1067 said:

Interesting.

 

You are not now and never were this man's grandchild (and "step-grandchild" isn't a term that has any meaning in the eyes of the law).  That he chose to refer to you as such in his will is, in my opinion, neither here nor there.  What is, in my opinion, important, is that you were mentioned by name.  If, for example, the will had said, "Each of my grandchildren is to receive $40,000," you would be entitled to nothing (even if your mother and stepmother were still married) because (as mentioned) you are not and never were a grandchild.

 

In my opinion, because the will specifically names you, you are entitled to the $40k.  That the term "grandchildren" was used doesn't change that, and the executor's assertion that "grandchildren" is ambiguous is both wrong and a red herring.  The only ambiguity exists in identifying a person (you) who isn't a grandchild as such.  However, in my opinion, the important factor is that you are identified by name.  In theory, the executor could try to argue that you should get nothing because you aren't and weren't a grandchild, but the deceased obviously knew the nature of your relationship and named you anyway, so I think a court would conclude that he intended you to have the $$.  I think this is something about which case law probably exists, but I don't know of anything off the top of my head.

 

What you do with this opinion is, of course, up to you.  You can take the offer and get $20k you didn't have before without any fight.  Or you can decline the offer and insist on the full $40k or make a counteroffer.  Maybe the executor will accede to that without a fight or maybe he'll object.  You could, if you are so inclined, seek a consultation from a local probate attorney.  You probably can find someone to give you a free consultation or you may have to pay a few hundred dollars.  Depending on what you are told, you can make a decision how you want to proceed.

 

I thank you for your opinion. You share the same opinion my financial adviser had regarding being specifically named.

 

I am going to go ahead and wait to receive this "document/letter" or whatever is being sent via snail mail, then likely consult a probate attorney from there. 

 

Thanks again for taking the time to reply!

 

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