My wife and I just bought an investment property in Koreatown. The main house is over 100 years old and still has much of the original, beautiful woodwork and built-ins throughout. There is also a duplex on the rear half of the lot. There’s much work to be done but there’s also good income potential with this property. We’re excited.
But how we acquired the property gives me a twinge of sadness because it didn’t have to happen this way. You see, we got the property through a probate sale. The sale was the result of the death of a dear old woman (so I’ve been told by neighbors) who’d lived in the house her entire life. She did not have an estate plan, however, and her family ended up fighting over the house and everything in it.
Eventually the property was put up for sale, but not until after a lengthy and particularly nasty probate during which the woman’s family members had gone through the house stealing anything of value they could find – including doorknobs, I kid you not. What makes me sad is that this amazing old house could have, and should have been an incredible part of the legacy that dear woman left to her family.
Instead, the memories, stories, and experiences she had in the house have been trampled by family members who were not given a framework of respect and reverence from which to cherish them. It is disheartening to see the passing of a family matriarch degenerate into a feeding frenzy of greed and petty theft. But it does happen, and all too often.
Had I known her in life I could have educated her about how to pass her material wealth to her family in a safe an orderly manner, commanding respect while safeguarding her family’s moral fiber. I could have shown her how to take control of her legacy, protect it, and have it mean something – something much more than doorknobs – to those she left behind.
I wish I’d had that chance.