Tuesday, 26 August 2014

There was a letter for my brother

yesterday. Yes I do mean for my brother and not from him. My brother lives in another state. He has done for about twenty-five years. He has never lived at this address.
His complete name (he has three given names) was on the envelope and the letter was official. It was from the Public Trustee.
I sent him an e-mail at work and told him I had forwarded it to him at home. He sent a message which said, "Thanks but !!!???".
I think he almost wished I had opened it and let him know what was inside. He will have to contain his patience but I sent him a likely explanation.
He married here in this state. His wife at the time has long since died but I suspect they had made out wills in favour of each other and deposited them with the Public Trustee. They moved on to another state. They had two children. They made new wills accommodating those children...and so it went on. They failed to inform the Public Trustee here of those facts.
Somewhere along the line the Public Trustee's office has caught up with his wife's death (after years) and they are wondering why the will has not been activated. In their usual style they would not have thought to look up the registry in other states to see whether another will has been lodged. Yes, you could say they are being careful - as perhaps they should be - but after all this time?
So, I have told my brother what the likely scenario is and said, "Sorry, I don't think anyone is leaving you a fortune."
I made a very simple will and left it with the Public Trustee when I first went away to university in London. It was not a pleasant experience but I had no time to do more. The young man who made it refused to do as I requested and told me, "Just write a letter telling your parents what you want done."  That is a fairly typical attitude of the Public Trustee's office. They dislike anything except the sort of will which says, "I leave everything to X". Even then, as the letter will undoubtedly show, it can take them years to get things done. (And yes, they do charge for the service. It is not cheap. A solicitor can, in the end, be cheaper and faster.)
But, although I think I am correct about the content of the letter, the Senior Cat was still puzzled as to why the letter should come here. I think I have an answer to that too. My father would have been named as a beneficiary in the event of my brother's death after that of his late wife. Someone has done a search of the electoral roll.
It is probably all, if you think about it, very ordinary detective work.
What puzzles me however is that this is the long way of going about it all. A phone call could have saved a lot of time and work.
Oh well, I suppose it is what they public servants to do.

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